N.J. taxpayers pay tab on illegal steroids

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Without further ado, here are links to the three parts of the enormous (both in length and import) “Strong at Any Cost” series by The Star-Ledger‘s Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller. The headlines alone tell much of the story.

The duo’s work centered upon now-deceased New Jersey doctor Joseph Calao. For good reason:

A seven-month Star-Ledger investigation drawing on prescription records, court documents and detailed interviews with the physician’s employees shows Colao ran a thriving illegal drug enterprise that supplied anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighters throughout New Jersey.

From a seemingly above-board practice in Jersey City, Colao frequently broke the law and his own oath by faking medical diagnoses to justify his prescriptions for the drugs, the investigation shows.

In just over a year, records show, at least 248 officers and firefighters from 53 agencies used Colao’s fraudulent practice to obtain muscle-building drugs, some of which have been linked to increased aggression, confusion and reckless behavior.

Six of them were later the subject of lawsuits “alleging excessive force or civil rights violations” that occurred around when they’d have been taking the drugs. Others were arrested for off-duty issues. For more on Colao’s medical excuses and his conflict-ridden relationship with the pharmacy that supplied his patients, be sure to read deeper in Brittain and Mueller’s meaty story.

Other must-reads are the “Warnings Ignored” subheading, which demonstrates the national scope of steroid abuse in the law enforcement community, and “About This Series,” in which the reporters explain how they conducted their investigation.

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