On Tuesday, April 13, Long Island Women in Power honored Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) at In Touch Hand Therapy. The South Shore Chapter event ran from 6:00-8:30PM and featured games, 50/50, and much more!
Pictures from the event can be seen below.
Change in Power
The executive board of Drug Free Long Island d/b/a Drug Free Massapequa ("DFM") is sad to report that Vicky Honohan has resigned from the board and the organization on Friday, March 26, 2010. The board accepted and respected her wishes and called an emergency meeting of the remaining board members to form both a new executive board and an advisory board to continue DFM's success.
The new executive board is Janice Talento, President; Sharon Sieczkowski, Vice President; Gary Zaccaro, Treasurer and Tim Taylor, Secretary.
The DFM advisory board now consists of Joe Pinto, Craig Garland, Joe Spinosa, Howard Rodriguez, Bob Moncini, Peter Puleio, Rachelle Gucker, Terri Kroll, Maria Pfirman and Christine Sohmer.
DFM is building a team of volunteers to run this organization successfully as each person brings to the table an area of expertise to compliment the others. The executive and advisory boards are looking forward to the upcoming events that are planned along with continuing the DFM mission/vision while instilling in our community the value and beliefs behind this organization.
To advance through public awareness, education and advocacy the transformation of Massapequa, Massapequa Park and its surrounding towns into a DRUG FREE enviornment for the general safety, health and welfare of our children and all of the members of our community.
Through the volunteer efforts of the Massapequas and surrounding communities, Drug Free Massapequa, in conjunction with local educators, law enforcement and numerous agencies, hopes to rid Long Island of heroin, other illegal drugs and drug dealers. Drug Free Massapequa will support local legislators, advocating for laws that will protect our children and keep them safe.
On Saturday March 20th Drug Free Massapequa ("DFM") hosted an outdoor day event at John Burns Park. Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, Nassau County Legislator Peter Schmitt, Nassau County Legislator Joe Belesi, New York State Assemblyman Joe Saladino, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, Incorporated Village of Massapequa Park Deputy Mayor Pravato, Massapequa School District Assistant Superintendent Sue Woodbury, and Marc Wenzel from YES Community Counseling Center were among many on the show mobile to help kick off the day with kind words of support for DFM.They urged parents to take control of their children to help keep them safe, it starts at home – county officials can set up programs and educate, but the reinforcement, love and support is the parent’s job.
The sun took a liking to DFM that day, and with its presence over 140 children participated in the seven different events.Families were able to speak to many different centers that had material out for parents including, LICADD, Central Nassau, P.O.P. Police and Community Affairs along with YES Community Counseling Center answered many questions about our drug problem in Massapequa. The children were amazing, while participating in each event they seemed so innocent - we need to make our community safe so they can stay that way.
There were many volunteers that helped to make this day possible among them were DFM Board members Sharon Sieczkowski, Gary Zaccaro, and Tim Taylor.DFM has prided itself with the volunteers that have reached out to help raise awareness in our community.Maria Pfirman, John Budnick, Nick Lamitola and Nancy Irving started with us at our Rally and have been at every event since to ensure that the word reaches every community.I thank each and every one of them – without you DFM would not have been able to host 4 events in 18 short weeks.You are all to be commended.
A special thanks to the Town of Oyster Bay and the John Burns Park crew for making it possible to have our event go off without a hitch at such a beautiful park.We are Drug Free Long Island d/b/a Drug Free Massapequa.There is no town on Long Island that is not affected by this problem and we encourage you to visit our website www.drugfreemassapequa.com to see all of our upcoming events – reach out to us 516-308-4068 with any questions.
One alone, two together, three united.Every town must band together so that no child stands alone to fight this epidemic.DRUG FREE LONG ISLAND – that is our goal, help us make it possible. Please feel free to attend our meetings - 2nd Wednesday of every month at 5023 Merrick Road, Massapequa.
Judicial Diversion for Dr. Saji Francis? By: Janice E. Talento - Co-President/Co-Founder Drug Free Massapequa
In early February 2010, ADA Teresa Corrigan contacted Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) for help in showing community strength in fighting to oppose Dr. Francis, a local internist with an office in Massapequa, being granted judicial diversion for his drug related crimes. Together with a letter from Legislator Schmitt, volunteers worked feverishly to gather over 2000 letters and emails to send to ADA Corrigan demanding that judicial diversion be denied.
On Thursday, February 25, 2010, ADA Corrigan presented her arguments to Honorable Judge Jaeger in a Mineola court room to have judicial diversion denied. As an additional show of support, members of Drug Free Massapequa and the local community traveled to Mineola.
Upon entering the small courtroom an overwhelming feeling came as you looked at Judge Jaeger's bench which displayed two flags, one Nassau County and the other the American flag, and just to the right a plaque that said “In God We Trust”, we needed that trust so justice would be served.
With the courtroom filled, Judge Jaeger announced the case of Dr. Saji Francis and turned the floor to ADA Teresa Corrigan who had overwhelming evidence against Dr. Francis' claim of his own drug addiction. She argued the fact that police enforcement had tapes of 9 separate accounts of Dr. Francis selling prescriptions; he had $1200 in his pockets the day of arrest and sited his personal statement when arrested. ADA Corrigan continued her arguments stating that all his screens came back negative to any evidence or trace of drug use.She concluded with a plea to Judge Jaeger to find with the people and deny Judicial Diversion.
Dennis Lemke, Dr. Saji Francis’ third lawyer, was given the chance to repute. His opening statement was the fact granted at this time until he had the chance. He then went on to say how Dr. Francis voluntarily entered into a private clinic where he surrendered his license to practice and write scripts, so he would be of no harm to the Massapequa community.He urged Judge Jaeger to find with the defendant who had admittedly taken drugs and considered himself to be addicted to be given Judicial Diversion.
Judge Jaeger was then ready to announce his verdict. While quoting the findings of the review board he said several times that judicial diversion was available as an offer to Dr. Francis. However, he also repeated that the findings had many inconsistencies. There was concern throughout the court room as no one knew Judge Jaeger's final determination. Then came the Judge's decision - judicial diversion DENIED!
DFM members and the community came out of the court room with a renewed sense of purpose and in a congratulatory mood due to the verdict and the successful efforts of ADA Corrigan. She thanked everyone for their help and support in this effort. While a trial is still possible if an agreement cannot be made between the two attorneys, DFM and the community continue to closely monitor this case and stand ready to help in the battle against drug abuse and the prosecution of drug dealers.
A community that stands together can make a difference in the fight against drugs; Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) will continue to unite the community as we raise awareness and demand a DRUG FREE zone to raise our children.Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; but soon or late the man who wins the battle is the man who thinks he can.Drug Free Massapequa knows they can!
DR. FRANK ON TRIAL
by: Vicky Honohan
Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) has been informed that the trial for Dr. Sanji Francis of Brookville scheduled to begin Monday, February 9th in Nassau County Supreme Court has been temporarily adjourned. Francis, a local internist with offices in Massapequa, was arrested in December for selling Oxycodone prescriptions to undercover agents nine times over a period of three months.
Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Teresa Corrigan reached out to DFM to announce at DFM’s February general meeting that Francis will be tried based on judicial jurisdiction, new legislation that allows a defendant to plead for drug rehabilitation as an addict instead of jail time for the sale and distribution of illegal substances. Corrigan passionately requested DFM’s help in assuring that judicial jurisdiction be denied by Supreme Court Justice Steven Jaeger. Within days of Corrigan’s appeal, DFM coordinated a team of volunteers to distribute petition letters through email blasts and local businesses. In below freezing temperatures, volunteers were seen standing outside of local supermarkets last Super Bowl Sunday, requesting signatures of support.
Through the efforts of Drug Free Massapequa, more than 1,200 petition letters have been signed and delivered to Corrigan’s office in Mineola. Another trial date should be announced shortly, and until then, volunteers will continue to solicit signatures. At the suggestion of ADA Corrigan DFM was urged to be in the court room the first day of the trial, and DFM encourages community participation. DFM fully supports rehabilitation for addicts and drug dealers, but Francis is a doctor, rumored to have financially benefited from the sale of illegal prescription drugs for years. Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey stated the day of Francis’ arrest, "Dr. Saji Francis is the antithesis of the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. His greed and total disregard for the ethics of the medical profession has exacerbated the opiate and heroin abuse in Massapequa."
DFM is asking Massapequa residents to take a stand. Visit its website at www.drugfreemassapequa.com to be on the blast list with updates on the trial.
DRUG FREE MASSAPEQUA ON THE MOVE
by Vicky Honohan
The evening of January 28, 2010, Drug Free Massapequa ("DFM") welcomed Massapequa businesses and local legislators to its first Open House held at 5023 Merrick Road on the north side of John Burns Park. DFM’s new headquarters was filled with laughter and determination. Many of the faithful were present, including State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, Town Councilman Joe Pinto, 7th Precinct P.O.P. Detectives Gary Fujarski and Janet Gallagher, and activist, Vic Ciappa, father of Nicole Ciappa, and architect of Natalie’s Law.
As business owners sipped sparkling water and sampled platters of sliced fruit, cheese, and veggies, stories of despair and strategies for success permeated conversations. Christine Sohmer, founding editor of massapequaNEWS.com, camera and tripod ready, interviewed DFM co-founders Vicky Honohan and Janice Talento. Enthusiasm for the new venture was obvious.
DFM’s Executive Board will include Vicky Honohan and Janice Talento as co-presidents, Sharon Sieczkowski as Treasurer, and Tim Taylor as Secretary. All officers are residents of the Massapequas. Massapequa Park attorney, John Budnick, was acknowledged for his pro bono services in activating DFM as a non profit , tax exempt corporation.
DFM has obtained the approval and cooperation of both the Massapequa School District and St. Rose of Lima to develop three public awareness projects before school closes in June. A Poster Contest for students K through 12 is being planned for February. Winners will be announced at a second DFM event scheduled for March. The Town of Oyster Bay has approved a Spring Outdoor Sporting Competition to be held at John Burns Park. Youth will compete in a variety of sporting events, with Karate demonstrations also on the agenda. Prizes will be distributed to winners of both the poster contest and sporting competitions. The third project will be a series of Parent/Student Forums to be held at Berner Middle School toward the end of April. In order to foster parent and student attendance, a Florida vacation for four is on the drawing board. Gary Zaccaro, Drug Free Massapequa’s Chair of Fund Raising, will be working hard to raise private funding.
Vicky and Janice have come to realize that no child rich or poor, with private or public schooling, honor student or not, is unscathed. And so, public awareness of middle and high school abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin and other opiates is Drug Free Massapequa’s primary, short term goal. And, stay tuned! A number of other exciting, worthwhile projects will be announced as the months progress into 2010 and beyond. With a twinkle in their eyes, Vicky and Janice reveal that they are full of ideas, and, "With lots of prayer and cooperation from a caring community, our efforts as well as challenges are unstoppable."
It is obvious that Drug Free Massapequa’s intentions are pure. Its co-founders and Executive Board are bona fide volunteers, receiving no financial compensation for their hard work - existing to foster a belief in life – to instill in the thoughts and hearts of teenagers and young adults that they are truly too good for drugs. All Massapequa schools and school age children are welcome to participate. To donate, volunteer or receive additional information about these three events, please visit their website at www.drugfreemassapequa.com or their email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 308-4068.
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