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March-April 1997

Albany, New York -- Assemblywoman Susan John (D-Rochester), the chairwoman of the New York Assembly's Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, was arrested on March 11 and charged with DWI. Her blood-alcohol was 0.14, above the legal limit of 0.10, said Lt. Steven Heider. Ms. John sponsored a "zero tolerance" bill toughening penalties for those under 21 who drive while intoxicated (Associated Press, "Drug Panel Chief Arrested," New York Times, March 12, 1997, p. A25).

Caracas, Venezuela -- A Roman Catholic priest from the Netherlands, Father Cornelius Stark, 51, was arrested February 18 at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Venezuela with two kilos of cocaine. Officials said Stark was planning to be paid $4000 for transporting the drugs home. Clark was wearing his black vestments when authorities discovered the cocaine hidden in his belt during a routine check ("Dutch priest arrested carrying cocaine," Denver Post, February 19, 1997, p. 17A).

Monroe, Connecticut -- Police arrested Mence Powell, 19, on January 28 for allegedly selling marijuana in Happy Meals® at a local McDonald's® restaurant. Undercover police reported five occasions in which Powell served them a hamburger, fries, soda and a side of marijuana. Police said Powell arranged his drug deals by phone or in person before delivering the drugs at the restaurant. Powell faces nine felony counts and is being held on bail of $20,000 ("Man accused of selling drugs in drive-through," Hartford Courant, January 30, 1997, p. A10; "McDonald's worker charged with selling marijuana," Baltimore Sun, January 30, 1997, p. 2A).

Hazleton, Pennsylvania -- Dr. Frank Ruhl Peterson, an anesthesiologist, pleaded guilty to felony charges of acquiring a controlled substance, theft, and 16 counts of assault for his role in operations on 12 patients. Peterson, 45, worked from June to August 1996 at Hazleton-St. Joseph Medical Center where he diluted the anesthesia of more than 200 patients, stealing their medication for his drug habit. The hospital, suspecting a problem with the anesthesia after patients complained of excruciating pain on the operating table, sent two intravenous drug bags to the laboratory for analysis. The mixtures, which had been prepared by Peterson, contained "only trace amounts of drugs that would have no therapeutic effect whatsoever," according to Detective Edward Harry. Peterson tested positive for Sufenta®, a highly addictive drug. According to Edward Krenzelok, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, "these are drugs with tremendous abuse potential, much more so than heroin. They are much more potent." On February 25, Peterson was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison, and his license will be suspended for at least 10 years (Pamela Sampson, "'They could feel the scalpel,'" Houston Chronicle, February 26, 1997, p. 6A; "Dr. Pain gets jail for drug thefts," Daily News (Philadelphia), February 26, 1997, p. 24).