Cops on Steroids

Baseball has no monopoly on foul balls. The NYPD's own drug scandal keeps simmering.

In 2001, Marino's remarkable bodybuilding was featured in the New York magazine article "Captain Midnight." After Marino got pushed around by street toughs as a skinny rookie in Harlem, the article noted, the cop "bulked up from 152 pounds to 190, had eighteen-inch arms, and could bench-press 350 pounds." It goes on to describe how Marino, who admitted that weightlifting changed his temperament, knocked out many a criminal and cop and how his wife divorced him, saying, "You're not the man I married, mentally or physically."

Former NYPD captain Eric Adams, once the leader of an organization of NYPD's black cops and now a state senator, says that "like baseball, in order to get a handle on how widespread the problem is, the NYPD should include steroids" in its random drug tests.

When he was on the job, Adams says, he didn't see anyone taking steroids. And he adds that there was no discussion of steroids among the cops with whom he worked out. There were suspicions, however. "You'd be in the gym and sometimes you know a guy is doing them," he says. "You can tell when a guy is on 'roids: He'd be very aggressive, have mood swings. But there was nothing rampant."

Lowen's Pharmacy
photo: Elena Dahl
Lowen's Pharmacy

A Manhattan cop previously stationed in Brooklyn contends that, for practical reasons, "relatively few" are willing to cross the line to do steroids. Many are obsessed with working out, not with doughnuts. "Contrary to popular belief," he says, "cops are more buffy than most people think." Creatine and other legal workout supplements are extremely popular among cops, he says, but obtaining steroids is more involved and risky, and most cops are paranoid of doing anything that will jeopardize their 20-and-out pensions.

Adams agrees that many cops try to beef up by legal means. "In law enforcement, everyone wants to be as buff as possible," Adams says. "Everyone wants to exercise as much as possible." Or maybe more than just work out— especially after they leave the gym.

People weaning themselves from steroids, says Wadler, often "have high incidence of depression and even suicide"—and still have those department-issued weapons strapped to their hips.

"They're playing Russian roulette with their health," he says. "Of course, in a cop you worry about 'roid rage more than with the average person. Steroids can make people more aggressive—severely aggressive—and you don't want a severely aggressive person being put in a position where they have their finger on the trigger of a gun."

Or with their hands on a broom handle. Cops are fully aware that during their colleague Justin Volpe's trial for the 1999 torture of Abner Louima, during which a broom handle was shoved up the ass of the immigrant in the 70th Precinct bathroom, a Volpe family confidant said the cop should have claimed temporary insanity caused by 'roid rage.

The Manhattan cop tells the Voice that "you automatically think of Volpe and how he lost it." But he says cops generally don't discuss the dangers of 'roid rage. "Most cops I've talked with don't give a shit about that," he says. "They're more concerned that the chief [Marino] got away with it, and the cops are getting jammed up."

If Joe Hynes follows the path of other prosecutors, the suspected NYPD steroid cops may never face criminal charges; their suppliers will be targeted. The fate of the cops will likely be determined by the NYPD's erratic disciplinary system.

According to law-enforcement sources, the NYPD has had to order the cops suspected of using to undergo special tests because the standard NYPD urinalysis exam doesn't detect steroids. There is no known test for HGH.

According to sources, six cops have tested positive for steroids: Sergeant Ray Cotton of Patrol Borough South and his officer-driver Vaughn Etienne; Sergeant Manny DaSilva of the 61st Precinct; and officers James Prinzo of the 60th Precinct, Frank Perna of the 68th Precinct, and Tab Haynes of the Staten Island task force. All but Haynes are Brooklyn cops. All six were suspended and then placed on modified duty. Their lawyers have declined comment.

Investigators are still trying to determine how the cops allegedly implicated in the Lowen's probe got turned on to the pharmacy in the first place. And cops aren't the only ones facing a probe. So far, 19 New York City firefighters have been found to have received prescriptions for steroids and/or HGH that were filled at Lowen's, sources say.

FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon says the department has not been notified that any firefighters had obtained prescriptions for steroids related to the investigation that revolves around Lowen's. Like the NYPD, the FDNY doesn't include steroids in its random drug tests.

In the past year, Lowen's has become what law-enforcement officials believe was one of the busiest steroid and HGH outlets in the country. Those involved in this alleged 'roid mill include a Beverly Hills chiropractor with a degree in hypnotism, a mob associate/ movie producer named Julius "Jules" Nasso who did time for extorting actor Steven Seagal, a former pump-and-dump stock operator who owns a gym, and a Staten Island doctor who had an office in what was known as the "Fountain of Youth Building," across the street from a cemetery.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
New York Concert Tickets