The Fedeal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working with the support of the US Marshals Service and the US Postal Inspection Service, arrested eight people as part of an investigation dubbed “Operation Juice Box” on April 29 and 30.
The arrests were announced by Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut on Monday.
The arrests were the result of a long-term investigation into steroid and prescription pill distribution by multiple people, including a Newtown Police sergeant, a Newtown Police dispatcher and a Connecticut Judicial Marshal.
The investigation, which included wire and electronic surveillance for nearly two months, also revealed that members of the conspiracy allegedly imported steroids from China.
The following individuals were arrested on a federal complaint charging them with conspiracy to distribute, and distribution of, various controlled substances including steroids and oxycodone: Steven Santucci, 38, of Waterbury, and a Sergeant with the Newtown Police Department; Alex Kenyhercz, 28, of Ansonia; Mark Bertanza, 33, of Shelton; Jason Chickos, 46, of Bridgeport, and a civilian dispatcher with the Newtown Police Department; Frank Pecora, 53, of Derby; Jeffrey Gentile, 33, of Ansonia, and a Judicial Marshal with the State of Connecticut; Steven Fernandes, 54, of Southington; and Michael D Mase, 32, of Sherman.
As alleged in the government’s complaint affidavit, which was unsealed in court on April 30, Bertanza was a steroid distributor who obtained his steroids from Kenyhercz. Wiretap interceptions over cellular telephones used by Bertanza and Kenyhercz, along with physical surveillance of various steroid sales, revealed that Santucci was supplying steroids to Kenyhercz. Through the investigation, agents learned that Santucci has been receiving shipments of steroids and related materials from China since 2011 and has been manufacturing and distributing wholesale quantities of steroids.
Santucci frequently used an application called WhatsApp to communicate with his customers.
Chickos, Mase and Fernandes were Santucci’s steroid customers who, in turn, regularly distributed the steroids in smaller quantities to their own customers.
Kenyhercz distributed quantities of steroids and prescription pills (including Roxicodone, Oxycodone, Suboxone and Opana).
Gentile is alleged to be a steroid distributer, and Pecora is alleged to be a prescription pill distributer.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized hundreds of vials of steroids, approximately 600 grams of raw testosterone powder, approximately 350 grams of powder cocaine, and four long guns.
“The international importation and sale of mass quantities of steroids in our communities is a serious offense that raises significant public health concerns,” stated Daly.
“When law enforcement officers are involved in criminal activity, it brings a particular sense of urgency to the investigation,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick.
“DEA and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners are committed to investigating steroid trafficking organizations,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael Ferguson. “Wearing a shield does not give you a free pass to peddle this poison in our neighborhoods or to our families.”
Santucci, Kenyhercz, Bertanza, Chickos, Gentile, Fernandes and Mase have been released on bond. Pecora remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on May 5, 2015.
Santucci, Bertanza, Gentile, Mase, Fernandes and Chickos, are charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000. Pecora and Kenyhercz and charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
In announcing these charges, U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that a complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Robert M. Spector.