By John Hammell, Political Coordinator Life Extension Foundation
We are pleased to inform you that the DHEA, which had illegally seized from Life Extension Foundation (LEF) member Paul Gallo, has finally been returned to him, and that the Bergen County New Jersey Prosecutor's office has admitted wrong doing in the matter.
In the February, 1996 issue of LIFE EXTENSION Magazine, we reported on the great job LEF attorney Ralph Fucetola did in assisting 75-year-old LEF member Paul Gallo in getting charges dropped against him for possession of DHEA, which the Bergen County N.J. Narcotics Task Force had claimed was an "illegal anabolic steroid" (a controlled dangerous substance and schedule 3 drug). Although charges had been dropped against Gallo, his illegally seized property had yet to be returned to him.
In that article, we discussed how Gallo had been arrested at the Oradel, N.J. post office after being summoned there by the postal inspector in order to receive his package of DHEA. We recounted how Gallo had been interrogated, thrown in a jail cell, fingerprinted, and had mug shots taken in what was clearly a case of false arrest.
We jumped to his defense, and quickly proved that DHEA, a metabolite of cholesterol, is no more an "anabolic" substance than cholesterol is. We had expert witnesses prepared to state this fact in court. We also quickly demonstrated that DHEA had never been listed in the Federal Register as a scheduled drug, as is required by law. When this was pointed out to the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, they dropped all charges against Mr. Gallo, but refused to return his illegally seized DHEA!
Dr. Whitaker Joins The Fight
Dr. Julian Whitaker then picked up the story from our magazine and published an article about the illegal Gallo raid in his newsletter, within which he included the phone number of the Bergen County prosecutor's office, requesting that his readers call to demand that Gallo's illegally seized property be returned to him promptly.
Upon reading Dr. Whitaker's article, I posted the phone number of the prosecutor's office in several Internet newsgroups. The prosecutor's office was then flooded with so many calls that they decided that their easiest course of action would be to return Gallo's DHEA!
Other Charges Dropped As Well
Six days before the Gallo raid, Ellen Linda Minquet, another LEF member had also been raided for possession of DHEA as a "controlled dangerous substance", but we didn't report that raid for legal reasons. Prosecutors also dropped all charges in her case and returned the seized DHEA.
In an article entitled "Purchasers of Hormone Caught in Drug War" the New Jersey Daily Record reported on Dec. 28, 1995 on the return of Gallo's and Minquet's DHEA, stating that:
"The arrests have raised concerns in health and medical journals about the overzealous enforcement of drug laws and the rights of individuals to obtain experimental drugs or dietary supplements for personal use."
Confusion At The FDA
They went on to report that:
"Joan Baran, a Customs spokeswoman at Kennedy airport in NYC, stated that the DHEA had been seized as a result of a customs alert issued by the FDA, however the FDA denied ever having issued such an alert for DHEA."
The New Jersey paper quoted Dr. Michael Klein at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research as saying that:
"The FDA does not consider the hormone to be a controlled substance."
Paul Schwenwede, an assistant prosecutor in the County's drug task force was quoted by The Record as saying that his office had:
"...reeled on the NJ. State Police Crime Labs determination that DHEA was an illegal anabolic steroid to set up the sting that led to Gallo's arrest."
The record quoted Schwenwede as saying that:
"Whether or not something 253 Steroid or a particular that is a controversy involving the chemists. When we as a law enforcement agency receive inmformation information something is a controlled dangeroussubstancee, we act accordingly."
LEF and Dr. Whitaker's teamwork were what the N.J. State Police Crime lab to reevaluate their erroneous pronouncement about DHEA. "In the medical community, the definition of these drugs is debatable," said John Haggerty, a police spokesman. Initially, Haggerty said the seized products could not be returned - but our pressure convinced him otherwise.
Capricious Regulation by the FDA
Attorney Fucetola says it was capricious regulation by the FDA that resulted in the arrests of his clients. He called these arrests examples of a drug war gone crazy.
Like Gallo, Minquet's DHEA was seizagainstennedy Airport. The Monmouth County Prosecutor's office dropped the charges agianst her after the state police crime lab determined that DHEA is not an anabolic steriod, Prosecutor John Kaye made the following comment after the DHEA was returned.
"It's hers," Kaye said. "It's legal."