Portland NORML News - Monday, December 8, 1997

Modaferri Faces Federal Drug Charges (Former Honolulu Prosecutor
Filmed Smoking 'Ice', FBI Says)

From: dtopping@elele.peacesat.hawaii.edu (Donald M. Topping )
Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 22:39:21 -0800
Pubdate: December 8, 1997
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Contact: editor@StarBulletin.com

Modaferri Faces Federal Drug Charges

The ex-deputy prosecutor was filmed smoking 'ice', FBI says

by Rod Ohira

FBI evidence into alleged drug use by Gary Modafferi includes videotape that
shows the former city deputy prosecutor smoking crystal methamphetamine.
According to an affidavit filed today in federal court by FBI agent Douglas
S. Hart, the 38-year old Honolulu attorney was filmed smoking "ice" this
year at two separate Waikiki hotels - Oct. 3 at the Outrigger Malia Hotel
and Oct. 17 at the Royal Garden Hotel.

The investigation began Sept. 9 when an unidentified "cooperating witness"
turned over a prescription pill known as zolpidem tartrate to the FBI. The
person claims to have received the pill in mid-August from Modafferi,
according to Hart's affidavit. Modaferri is charged with knowingly and
intentionally distributing .69 gram of crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," in
Hawaii, possession of crystal meth and distributing zolpidem tartrate.

FBI spokesman John Gillies declined comment on whether Modafferi's arrest is
related to any other federal drug cases.

"My first reaction is I want to vomit," said attorney Michael Jay Green, who
is representing Modafferi. "This is a guy who is respected by everyone.
"Stress happens in life and for attorneys, it can be very damaging and takes
its toll," Green added. "Lawyers have been known to turn to drugs and
alcohol, which is why counseling services are available to them."

Modafferi, who was arrested last night at 7:47 p.m. at his South Street
apartment, was scheduled to have an initial appearance today before
Magistrate Francis Yamashita. Green has concerns about the role of the
"cooperating witness."

"In these type cases, I'm always interested in the role of the person but I
need to review the evidence," Green said.

According to the affidavit, the witness accompanied Modafferi to the
Outrigger Malia Hotel on Sept. 9 and observed the attorney using crystal
meth. The witness agreed to videotape the meeting but the camera was not
positioned correctly to capture the proper images. On Sept. 22, Modafferi
went to the witness residence and was again filmed allegedly using crystal
meth. Due to a video malfunction, however, the proper images agaian were not
captured on film.

The Oct. 3 videotape shows Modafferi smoking crystal meth numerous times,
the affidavit says. "Modafferi gave (the cooperating witness) a small
plastic bag containing crystal methamphetamine which (the witness) gave to
me," Hart said in the affidavit. "The plastic bag and its contents weighed
.69 grams, and a field test of the drug was positive for the presence of

At the Royal Garden Hotel meeting on Oct. 17, Modafferi is again shown on
film smoking crystal meth numerous times.

"Modafferi gave his glass pipe to (the witness) prior to exiting the hotel,"
Hart's affidavit says. "Agents in a nearby room viewed Modafferi smoking via
a camera which was hidden in (the witness') room. "Scrappings from the pipe
tested positive for the presence of amphetamines/crystal methamphetamine,"
the affidavit added.

The Deadly Streets (Seattle Warns Its Addicts Away From Downtown Eastside
Vancouver, BC, Where Intravenous Use Of Prohibited Drugs Fuels The Highest
Rate Of New HIV Infection In North America)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Canada: The deadly streets
Source: Maclean's Magazine
Contact: letters@macleans.ca
Author: Jennifer Hunter
Pubdate: December 8, 1997
Website: http://www.macleans.ca/newsroom120897/can3120897.html


Seattle warns its addicts to stay away from Vancouver

Blood Alley is a laneway in the gentrified Gastown area of
Vancouver, just half a block north of East Hastings Street. One of the
saddest streets in the Downtown Eastside, East Hastings is a ragged,
unfettered market of drugs, drink and despair. And considering its
present use, Blood Alley is aptly named. At one end is the Gastown
Medical Clinic, where heroin and cocaine addicts can seek help. At the
other is Food For Thought, a drop-in centre where intravenous drug
users who are HIV-positive can get a free cup of coffee, a muffin and
sensible advice. Food For Thought was started last spring by two
altruists, Norman Edwards, 38, and Russell Conley, 32, who had been
running a free-lunch club in West End Vancouver for people--most of
them gay men--with HIV. But then "we began to notice a change in the
type of people who were coming for the lunch and how much they were
eating," says Conley. "People were coming back for fifth plates of
food. Many were from the Downtown Eastside--they were spending their
money on drugs so they had nothing to buy food." Conley and Edwards
decided to open a space on the east side to provide food and
information about HIV. "We had no idea it was this desperate," says
Edwards. "We thought it was bad--but oooh."

Bad is putting it mildly. The Downtown Eastside is being gutted by an
AIDS epidemic, spread by drug addicts who are shooting into every part
of their body--necks, arms, legs, even groins--then sharing their used
hypodermics with others. According to AIDS researchers, this area of
Vancouver has the highest rate of new HIV infection in North America.
In the first six months of 1997, it stood at 17 per cent, meaning that
out of every 100 uninfected intravenous drug users here, 17 will
become infected with HIV every year. The final, shattering statistic
is this: over 40 per cent of the 8,000 or so intravenous heroin and
cocaine users in the Downtown Eastside are HIV-positive. "HIV is
becoming more and more a disease of the poor," says Steffanie
Strathdee, one of the scientists studying the spread of the disease
for the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

The problem is so bad that in late October, the Vancouver/Richmond
Health Board declared the HIV and AIDS epidemic to be a public health
emergency. The B.C. situation has also sounded alarm bells south of
the border. Health authorities in Seattle, Wash., where the rate of
infection among drug users is only three per cent, have handed out
12,000 flyers to local addicts warning about the dangers of visiting
Vancouver. The federal and provincial governments, meanwhile, have
promised $4 million, topped off with $700,000 from the health board,
to arrest the spread of the disease through outreach programs,
stepped-up staff training and increased access to health services.

Doctors first noticed a big jump in the rate of infection in the
Downtown Eastside in early 1996--but were initially at a loss to
explain it. They soon learned that drug users were beginning to inject
cocaine--exacerbating the problem of shared needles. Heroin users
generally need three hits a day to maintain their stuporous high.
Cocaine addicts, on the other hand, need at least 20 daily fixes. That
means that even with a well-established needle exchange program in
place, there can never be enough clean needles to meet the incessant
demand. In fact, according to Strathdee, about 10 million needles
would be needed each year in the Downtown Eastside to stem the
widespread practice of sharing hypodermics.

That is the scenario that met Edwards--who is himself
HIV-positive--and Conley when they arrived on the Eastside. Food for
Thought received $100,000 in funding from the B.C. ministry of health.
Starbucks provides free coffee and day-old buns and muffins, furniture
and equipment. Hemp B.C., an organization that promotes the
legalization of marijuana, provides $1,000 a month for juice and
fruit. "We wanted to open up a dialogue about HIV and AIDS," says
Conley, an artist who does not have HIV. "In the drug-using community
down here, if you identify yourself as being HIV-positive you are seen
as a threat, you could get beaten up." As a result, he adds, few on
the street tell others they are HIV-positive--or take precautions to
prevent the spread of their illness.

The Food For Thought space at 52 Blood Alley--in what was once an old
jail--is tiny, enough for a desk and three tables, a coffeemaker and
an array of pastries. On the walls are posters promoting the use of
condoms, information about free lunches, advice about coping with
AIDS. During one recent morning, Royce Contois, Albert Sutton and Mel
Evenson, all denizens of the Downtown Eastside and all HIV-positive,
had taken advantage of the drop-in centre, knowing they could sit for
a while and be treated like human beings. "This is a good place," said
Sutton, who has been off heroin for two years. "People here aren't
afraid to talk."

Contois, a 36-year-old aboriginal man from Manitoba, is homeless--and
says he has been clean for two months. His wife, Esther, who is also
HIV-positive, is in the hospital, recovering from necrotizing
fasciitis--the so-called flesh-eating disease. Until he met Edwards
and Conley, Contois spent his time getting high on rice wine, $1 pops
of Valium, 50-cent tabs of Tylenol 3, fixes of heroin and cocaine for
$10 each. Sutton, 53, whose tattooed arms--complete with schooners and
the requisite naked lady--betray his years as a sailor, used to
shoplift and prostitute himself. "Anything to get a fix," says Sutton,
who is now on methadone, a prescription substitute for heroin.
Evenson, 28, says: "Sometimes, I don't want to talk about my
disease--sometimes, I just want to die." And sometimes, he can't stay
away from the ubiquitous drugs. "I see a syringe just lying there or
people see me and hand it to me, saying there's no strings attached,
it's free," Evenson adds.

Edwards and Conley feed them and offer advice. "You drive down
Hastings Street and you want to lock your car and roll up your
windows," says Edwards, who is now on disability because he can no
longer work as a graphic artist. "But then you start hearing the
stories and you want to cry." And if people need medical help, they
send them a few doors down to Dr. Stanley de Vlaming at the Gastown
Medical Centre.

De Vlaming is an intense young man, one of the few doctors who
practises in the Downtown Eastside and is licensed to dispense
methadone. Outside his office one day last week, Andrea, a dark-haired
woman in her 20s, did what is called the funky chicken walk, bobbing
up and down, weaving like a punch-drunk boxer--a sign that she was
high on cocaine. Andrea had not slept for four days; signs of her
addiction were also evident in the bloody track marks scarring her
legs. Heroin and cocaine are so easy to get in the area, says de
Vlaming, that "you can get them delivered to your door faster than
Chinese food."

De Vlaming has 160 patients who are HIV-positive, most addicted to
both heroin and cocaine. His method of treating them is to try first
to stabilize them with methadone to ease their heroin addiction and
then tackle their cocaine addiction by putting them into recovery
programs that will get them off the street and teach them life skills,
before turning to their HIV. His practice is run on a drop-in
basis--de Vlaming knows better than to expect addicts to keep
appointments. But, he says, "a lot of my patients want out of their
addiction. Most of them come to me seeking an exit. They don't want to
live like this anymore--their drug use stopped being fun a long time

He believes Edwards and Conley "have been a godsend." Nobody, he
explains, "was talking here about AIDS openly. What Norman and Russell
did was to start dialoguing with the drug-using community." And, since
Edwards is HIV-positive himself, de Vlaming adds, "he has shown them
you can live positively with the disease. He has dispelled the myth
that HIV means instant death." Edwards believes the answer to the AIDS
epidemic lies in more education and addiction recovery programs. "What
I see here keeps me angry," he says. Angry enough that even though his
doctor has told him he is dying, he will stay here, handing out
muffins, dispensing information about AIDS, filling coffee cups until
he can no longer even pour. Trying to salvage a few lives.




Comments, questions and suggestions.E-mail

Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/

Back to the 1997 News page.

This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/120897.html