'China White' cited in 6 deathsFentanyl, a potent...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

March 12, 1992

BALTIMORE CITY — 'China White' cited in 6 deaths

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic narcotic known on the street as "China White," has been linked to six overdose deaths statewide -- five in Baltimore and one in Montgomery County -- since mid-February, according to police and state health officials.

Dr. John E. Smialek, chief state medical examiner, confirmed this week that Fentanyl, a powerful tranquilizer, was definitely responsible for four of the six overdose deaths. Preliminary tests linked it to the other two victims, both from the city.

An alert is being issued to all hospital emergency rooms, local health departments and narcotics treatment centers in Maryland, said Mike Golden, a spokesman for the state health department.

Fentanyl, a powerful tranquilizer used in surgery and to sedate wild animals, is sought by heroin addicts and usually shows up in large metropolitan areas where heroin abuse is prevalent, said Lt. Col. Thomas H. Carr, head of the State Police Bureau of Drug Enforcement.

"It has the same type of physical response as heroin, only it is about 100 percent more potent," he said. "The chances of overdosing on it are much greater."

Jackpot grows:

Maryland State

There was no jackpot winner in last night's Maryland Lotto drawing, making Saturday's drawing worth $2 million to a lucky player.

No one cashed in on the six winning numbers -- 1, 3, 18, 29, 40 and 45, said state Lottery Agency spokeswoman Donna Williams.

She said five numbers were picked by 26 people, who each won $952. Four numbers were matched by 1,233 players, who each earned $35.

The gross sales for last night's $1.5 million Lotto drawing were $618,672, Ms. Williams said.

United Way ruling:

Anne Arundel County

United Way ruling: A 1972 state law making it illegal to use coercion and intimidation to solicit donations does not apply to the United Way charity drive, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The law covers political, social and economic organizations. In a 5-2 decision, the court said that United Way does not meet that definition.

The ruling involves a case filed in U.S. District Court by Lucille Ball, who alleges she was fired by United Parcel Service because she would not donate money and time to the United Way drive. The company said Ms. Ball was fired for other reasons. The federal court delayed the suit to get an advisory ruling from the Maryland court on whether the state law applies to United Way.

The 1972 law makes it a criminal offense "to engage in any act or conduct for the sole purpose of coercing or intimidating another person to contribute . . . to any social, economic or political association or organization."

Uniting against AIDS:

Baltimore County

The high incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome among minorities has spawned the first-ever Minority AIDS Forum Dinner in Baltimore County.

The goal of the event is to unite local black and Hispanic community leaders in the fight against AIDS and to increase awareness of treatment programs and services.

The AIDS Division of the county's Health Department and the state AIDS Administration are sponsoring the event, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at Liberty Family Resource Center, 8737-B Liberty Road.

For more information, call 887-3748.

Settlement reached:

Carroll County

Opponents in a $2.4 million lawsuit against Springfield Hospital Center reached a court approved settlement Monday. Conditions of the settlement were undisclosed.

Dr. Angel Losada, whose prescription-writing privilege was suspended in July 1989, filed the suit against Bruce Hershfield, hospital superintendent, and David Waltos, clinical director, in Baltimore County Circuit Court in August 1990.

Dr. Losada called the suspension a retaliation against his criticism of how quickly the hospital discharges patients. After being a member of the Sykesville hospital's staff for 30 years, he retired last August.

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Heroin seizure:

Harford County

Three out-of-state men are being held in the county detention center on narcotics possession and distribution charges after $100,000 in heroin was seized from their vehicle, the Harford sheriff's office said.

Charged are Roque Elias Cisneros, 27, and Roberto Esmelis Garay Portillo, 20, both of Huntington Station, N.Y.; and Videl DeJesus Moreira, 26, of Sepulveda, Calif., the sheriff's office said.

They are being held on $15,000 bond each.

Police stopped the car after the driver, Mr. Cisneros, made an "improper turn" in Edgewood Sunday afternoon, the sheriff's office said.

Car thieves sought:

Howard County

State Police are looking for two men who took a car from a family at gunpoint and then led police on a high-speed chase into Washington, where they bailed out of the car and escaped in a wooded area.

Police said two men pulled a handgun on a man and his two children in the rear parking lot of Owen Brown Village Center in Columbia Monday night and took the car keys.

A witness alerted police via car phone and followed the car to Interstate 95. State troopers chased the car at speeds up to 90 mph to U.S. 50, then into Washington.

Hearing-aid scam:

MARYLAND STATE

A hearing-aid salesman has been ordered to repay elderly consumers who state officials say were tricked into buying a product they did not need.

Reginald Spencer, who based his business in Columbia until it was closed by authorities last year, victimized people who lived on modest, fixed incomes, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said yesterday.

The attorney general's Consumer Protection Division found that Mr. Spencer used deceptive and fraudulent practices to persuade elderly consumers to pay an average of $2,000 for unnecessary hearing aids.

People who believe they are entitled to refunds may call the attorney general's health education and advocacy unit at 528-1840.

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