NASSAU COUNTY, NY (PIX11)—It happened again -- gunfire and death during a pharmacy robbery -- providing another, grim statistic for the Long Island 'Pharmacy Crimes' Task Force.
The task force was formed last summer, after gunman, David Laffer--a U.S. Army veteran--executed four people in the Haven Pharmacy in Medford on Father's Day. Laffer pleaded guilty to killing the pharmacist, his teen assistant, and two customers, so he could steal 11,000 painkillers for his drug-addicted wife, Melinda Brady, who was waiting in a getaway car.
Since August 17, 2011, Nassau police reported six, drug store robberies in their county, the most recent one fatal: with off-duty federal agent, John Capano, killed by apparent "friendly fire", when he tried to chase suspect, James McGoey, out of Charlie's Family Pharmacy in Seaford this past Saturday.
Agent Capano had just parked his car in the rear lot, leaving his wife and teen son inside, while he went into the pharmacy to pick up cancer medication for his 82 year old father--retired, NYPD Detective, James Capano. Inside the pharmacy, Agent Capano encountered James McGoey, who was just paroled this past August from state prison, where he served ten years for robbery. McGoey--who was carrying a 'mock' pellet gun--was also killed during the shootout, outside the pharmacy on Merrick Road. Investigators think Agent Capano was killed by a bullet from the gun of an off-duty NYPD officer, who was summoned from a nearby deli.
Caroline Sullivan, director of the drug rehabilitation program at Daytop Village in Huntington Station, spoke to PIX 11, yet again, about the scourge of prescription painkillers. She quoted new statistics from a federal group called SAMHSA--the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. According to the stats, in 2010, seven million Americans--12 years of age and older--used prescription, psycho-therapeutic drugs for non-medical reasons. 55 percent of these people got the pills from a friend or relative for FREE. Just over 17 percent got the meds, inappropriately, from a doctor. 4 percent got the painkillers from a drug dealer or other stranger.
The painkillers are known by brand names like OxyContin or OxyMorphone, and they can sell on the street for as low as $20 a pill. The painkiller epidemic is now a scourge from Long Island to Staten Island. Back in June 2011, PIX 11 reported the story of a Staten Island nurse, married to an NYPD sergeant, who was arrested in her hospital scrubs, accused of being part of an oxycontin ring operating all the way to the Jersey Shore. Also on Staten Island, an 83-year old doctor was charged with writing more than three thousand prescriptions for painkillers to phony patients.
U.S. Congressman, Peter King--whose district includes Seaford and Massapequa--told PIX 11 that Nassau police have noticed an upsurge in burglaries among upper-middle class teen girls, trying to get money to feed their pill addictions.
Unfortunately, ATF agent, John Capano, walked right into the middle of a pharmacy robbery, simply because he was doing his elderly father a favor. "He's the type of person to do that," said Joe Gallipani, a friend of Capano's dad, James. "The father would have went (to the store). Now the father feels bad that he sent him." Gallipani continued, "I feel sorry for the family, because he just lost his mother. I saw him (Agent Capano) at the funeral last week."
Nassau police told PIX 11 Monday they've arrested two men, responsible for five pharmacy robberies, since last August. Suspect David Ok was accused in three of them, while Joseph Chieffo was charged in two. The last robbery on New Year's Eve in Seaford resulted in the suspect's death. Unfortunately, an off-duty federal agent trying to do the right thing was killed alongside him, leaving two children and a wife to mourn his loss.