Illegal Confiscation of a Nutritional Supplement

Paul Gallo is a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher living in Oradell, New Jersey. He was prescribed DHEA by a physician to improve his memory and general health and frequently ordered it from Europe, which is perfectly legal.

They Wrongfully Arrested Him…

When his last shipment arrived, Paul received a phone call to pick it up from the post office. Paul does not drive, so when he and his friend, Gene Bril, arrived at the post office, investigator Paul Caviochia and others from the Bergen County Narcotics Task Force accosted, handcuffed, and searched them both, then took them to the Bergen County Police Station. Gene Bril was questioned and released; Paul Gallo was arrested, and had his fingerprints and mug shot taken.

The warrant for his arrest stated that Mr. Gallo did “purposely possess a controlled dangerous substance, namely, Dehydroepiandrosterone, a schedule III narcotic, a violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10a(1).”

DHEA is not a controlled, dangerous substance, is not schedule III, and is about as narcotic as applesauce! Therefore, Mr. Gallo was not in violation of any New Jersey law by ordering it for his personal use.

…Then Dropped Charges After He Promised Not to Sue

When his lawyer, Ralph Fucetola III, notified prosecuting attorney Fred Schwanwede that DHEA was not a controlled substance, he dropped all charges against Mr. Gallo and wrote that he would not object to expunging the arrest record, if Mr. Gallo would promise not to sue the state.

Paul Gallo did this, in order to be left alone. However, Mr. Schwanwede refused to return Mr. Gallo’s DHEA. He maintained that the New Jersey State Police Laboratory classifies DHEA as a schedule III anabolic steroid. That’s when I heard about the case, and decided to get involved. I talked to Mr. Schwanwede on the phone, and told him I had seven years’ clinical experience with DHEA, and that no one had ever classified it as an anabolic steroid, simply because it wasn’t.

Contraband to the Police, Not to the Police Lab

Mr. Schwanwede insisted that this was the classification of the New Jersey State Police Laboratory, and “went off” on how he had no time for a scientific discussion of DHEA, that I had no business being involved, that DHEA was contraband, and that he was not about to return it to Mr. Gallo. As he was talking, I did not hear reason, concern, or even curiosity. I heard only the sounds of tyranny.

I then called Ajit Tunguare, head of the New Jersey State Police Laboratory in question. He assured me that DHEA was not on the laboratory list of anabolic steroids, and was not listed as schedule III.

Folks, this is unacceptable. These actions of the New Jersey State Police are akin to those of the police in some banana republic, or even worse, a dark European tyranny where people live in constant fear of government and “a knock on the door.”

The Police Illegally Confiscated Mr. Gallo’s DHEA

For obvious reasons, Mr. Gallo wanted nothing more to do with the police. The handcuffs, fingerprinting, and arrest made a lasting impression on him. He wasn’t even seeking to have his property returned to him.

But I was. If government officials are allowed to terrify retired schoolteachers, confiscate their property, then “make up” irrational, indefensible “classifications” to justify their behavior, they’ll soon be terrorizing you. Worse, these “cases” will so intimidate you that you’ll be afraid to act in your own self-interest. This nonsense must be stopped!

I wrote to New Jersey Attorney General Deborah T. Poritz, pointing out that the whole affair was not only illegal, but also a terrible abuse of power. It violated, word for word, the Bill of Rights and was inconsistent with the very premise of a free people governed by a constitution with reasonable laws.

We Put on the Pressure

We then deluged the Bergen County prosecutor and the Attorney General of New Jersey, Deborah Poritz with letters from all over the country. In addition, Jim Estaphiou chronicled the story in the Bergen County newspaper, The Record.

I then received a letter from Deborah Poritz, stating that she was recommending Paul’s DHEA be returned. As the saying goes, the Bergen County prosecutor “saw the light when he began to feel the heat.”

Had concerned individuals not registered their opinions on this issue, there is no way Paul Gallo would have had his DHEA returned. We can take pride in the fact that we helped right an obvious wrong without legal fees, and without someone having to pass yet another law. I am proud to be associated with a group of people who care and are willing to express it.

Modified from Health & Healing, December 1998, with permission from Phillips Health, LLC. © copyright 1998, Phillips Publishing, Inc. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, call (800) 539-8219.