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Bergen prosecutor offers help to addicts, warns of penalties for drug-induced deaths

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A PROSECUTOR WRITES: In a rare step for a lawman, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has extended the services of his office — without criminal charges — to anyone whose children, siblings or spouses have drug problems.

At the same time, he warned parents that that their children could be prosecuted for sharing a drug — even a single Oxycodone pill — that kills someone.

“Law enforcement today knows that making arrests is not always the answer to our problem,” Molinelli wrote, as part of a series of a series of open letters financed with money forfeited by criminals.

Today’s heroin

“So I will make you this promise: If you are a parent or sibling or spouse of someone who needs help, call your local police department or call us,” the prosecutor said.

“I know that treatment resources are hard to come by. I know that treatment is expensive, and often not covered by insurance,” he said.

“That may stop you from doing something. More likely, you don’t want to do anything because it is your son, or your daughter, or husband or wife. You don’t want to cause them trouble. Understandable.

“We will talk to you,” Molinelli said. “We will talk to your son or daughter and try to direct you to available resources that are out there.

“We will not arrest anyone in your family if you make that call,” he emphasized. “Not you. Not your son or daughter.”

The number: 201-226-5758

“We cannot arrest our way out of this,” the prosecutor said, “but we can be a part of getting the right help to those who need it.

“That is my promise.”

There’s more to Molinelli’s message, however.

Many believe that street dealers are responsible for a growing drug epidemic that he said is “having devastating consequences to many Bergen County families.”

“Think again,” the prosecutor said. “We are all responsible.”

He offered a scenario:

“You run a good household in suburban Bergen County. You have a house, a great job and great kids, who all went to college and are just starting out on the life that you have given them.

“Your 23 year old son still lives at home, has a great job and a girlfriend. He is a good kid.

“You have some Oxycodone pills in your medicine cabinet. You were prescribed them a year ago. You do not take them but they remain in your bathroom cabinet. You don’t know why. All of us have done this at some point in time.

“Your son would never take the “oxy.” He is a good kid. But your son’s girlfriend has a friend. You don’t know this friend.

“This friend has a drug problem and asks your son to get him an “oxy” pill. Your son knows that he should not do it, but gives his girlfriend the “oxy” pill anyway to give to the friend. The friend takes the pill.

“Unbeknownst to you, your son and his girlfriend, it’s his tenth of the day, in addition to many other pills that other friends have given him.

“The friend dies from all of this — not just the pill that your son’s girlfriend gave him, but based on everything that he took that day.”

As Molinelli emphasized, your son or daughter “may be charged under New Jersey’s drug-induced death law.”

Those 18 or older who are convicted under the law can be sent to prison for 20 years — 17 of which they must serve before being eligible for parole.

“20 years in prison for one Oxycodone pill — YOUR Oxycodone pill,” Molinelli said. “Do you still think that this law only applies to street dealers?”

The prosecutor urged parents to educate themselves.

“Many of us have a picture of heroin. We see a needle and a spoon. That is the vision that all of us came to know, many years ago,” he said. “But that is not the only face of heroin.”

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