Staten Island Fentanyl Overdose Task Force: DA McMahon, BP Fossella Announce Formation


District Attorney McMahon and Borough President Fossella to Form “Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force”

The Group, Formed After Governor Hochul’s “Farce” of a Statewide Task Force was Announced, to be Composed of Local Treatment Providers, Health Professionals, Law Enforcement, and, Critically, Those Fighting Addiction and Family Members of Those Impacted by the Disease

Task Force Will Provide Real Policy and Legislative Recommendations to City, State, and Federal Lawmakers and Make Critically Important Funding Requests for Those on the Frontlines of the Fight for Those Struggling with Substance Disorders and the Safety of our Communities

Today, Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon and Borough President Vito J. Fossella announced the formation of the Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force, to be made up of local leaders in law enforcement, government, treatment and recovery, and most importantly those battling addiction illness and their loved ones. The group, whose first meeting and full membership will be announced in the coming days, will form after Governor Hochul announced her “Interagency Task Force on Overdose Prevention” last week. The Governor’s announcement came after inexplicably vetoing legislation last year, sponsored by former Staten

Island elected officials Assemblyman Cusick and Senator Savino, to create a statewide Fentanyl Task Force.

“When Governor Hochul vetoed legislation to create a statewide Fentanyl Task Force, we joined our neighbors in outrage, confusion, and impatience at the total dismissal of a drug epidemic that reached deadly new heights last year, killing over 100,000 Americans, among them 146 Staten Islanders; fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues are no longer with us because of the scourge of opioids and fentanyl” said District Attorney McMahon.

“Since the Governor’s veto, we were repeatedly told that law enforcement, treatment providers, health officials, and most importantly, the families whose lives have been torn apart by addiction and overdose, would be part of a Fentanyl Task Force formed by the Governor herself, but unfortunately that promise was not upheld.

So, Staten Islanders will do what we always do: take matters into our own hands and look out for one another when our elected leaders fall short. I am honored to join Borough President Fossella and an amazing group of Staten Islanders in this effort, and look forward to sharing real, meaningful, and critically needed improvements to our collective response to the drug crisis with our government leaders in the weeks and months to come.”

Borough President Fossella said “Based on what we see, the state’s Interagency Task Force on Overdose Prevention does not go far enough. In our opinion, it will not include individuals and organizations that truly understand the gravity of this problem, and that can offer more tangible and real solutions. This terrible epidemic has claimed the lives of far too many Staten Islanders to be left so woefully under-addressed. We know that 80% of overdose deaths on Staten Island are linked to fentanyl use. This new task force, when it begins operations, will be a critical piece in assessing the very real consequences of fentanyl use on its victims and their families, and delivering real, attainable legislative recommendations to the state government.”

Dr. Joseph Conte, Executive Director of Staten Island Performing Provider System said “The overdose crisis is the single most critical healthcare and societal threat facing Staten Islanders today, its ramifications will be felt for generations. External agencies and other governmental units have completely ignored Staten Island needs. I applaud the forward thinking of our Borough President Vito Fossella and District Attorney, Michael McMahon to assemble a working task force to identify solutions and resources needed to combat this scourge.”

Dr. Joel A. Idowu, Director of Residency Training at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Richmond University Medical Center said “I eagerly look forward to partnering with others on the task force and hopeful that this will be the catalyst to finally addressing the scourge that has ravaged our community for far too long.”

Candace Crupi, a Staten Islander who lost her son to addiction and overdose, said “Back in the seventies, I saw the devastation of heroin, never thinking it would hit my family years later. Kids were dying and people were quietly trying to get help. I can’t tell you how many rehabs and detoxes [my son] Johnny was in and kicked out of because he wasn’t ready to share, or he wasn’t following the program. His counselors loved him, and he was trying, just not succeeding.

They hated to tell him he couldn’t come back. I’m starting to see a little change in the way rehabs are treating addiction. They’re working with the addicts on a more personal basis because addiction isn’t a one size fits all kind of problem. I just think we have to do more.”

Staten Island remains in the grips of a drug epidemic that has claimed 838 of our neighbors since 2016. Two-thirds of those fatal overdoses were linked to fentanyl, with over 80% of overdoses in 2022 caused at least in part by fentanyl and its analogs. The severity of this crisis demands an urgency that we frankly have not seen from those in leadership, and the group of state agency leaders who make up Governor Hochul’s Task Force is not in the best position to develop and implement real solutions to provide meaningful relief to those that need it. Conceived in an echo chamber, it lacks members who live and have lived it each and every day. A Task Force without local treatment providers, elected leaders, law enforcement, and most importantly: those suffering from addiction and their families is ill-equipped to succeed.

The Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force will host its inaugural meeting in the coming weeks and will work together to develop and propose real legislative and policy recommendations to our leaders in local, state, and federal government based on the on-the-ground reality of the epidemic that has taken too many of our loved ones.

While additional members may be forthcoming, the Staten Island Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force is comprised of the following members:

– District Attorney Michael E. McMahon – Staten Island Borough President Vito J. Fossella – Dr. Ram Raju, Staten Island Borough President’s Office – Dr. Joe Conte, Staten Island Performing Provider System – Adrienne Abbate, Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness – Jacqueline Filis, YMCA of Greater New York – Luka Nasta, Camelot Counseling of Staten Island – Gary Butchen, Bridge Back to Life – Patricia O’Rourke, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP) – Dr. Joel Idowu, Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) – Paul Lebowitz, Primary Care – Mayank Parikh, Super Health Pharmacy – Candace Crupi, Survivor – Diane Arneth, Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) – Ilena Acosta, RUMC Silberstein Treatment Center – Alyssa Calandra, Staten Island Justice Center – Soni Kada, Staten Island Justice Center – Inspector Mark C. Molinari, NYPD Detective Borough Staten Island

Banner Image: Overdose. Image Credit – HASTYWORDS



  • CRANK CRANK says:

    District Attorney Michael E. McMahon and Vito Fosella are on the ball.

    At least they try. I get the fact that drugs are here to stay but this is way overboard. Staten Island is a beautiful place, but our reputation for opiates precedes us. Instead of the island of needles maybe we can be the island of..anything else?

    No one here exactly wants a repeat of the way Giuliani handled it all. They want the outcome Giuliani achieved without the harassment of people just being people. Giuliani overdid it and made the city hostile to its residents and then they voted Dem. But the ideas of Giuliani at the core were on the right track. The city has come a long way.and we have to admit Giuliani helped us get here.

    I think we have a good future, despite the doom and gloom talk.

  • ninjapaul ninjapaul says:

    Thank you all for actually having a concern about our communities.

  • Avatar Frank says:

    I am realistic and know there will always be hard drugs. I tend to be an idealist and like to still think otherwise. Family members in law enforcement as well as friends on the job let me know that it’s impossible to eradicate drugs completely. I get that. There will always be pockets of addicted people. (I don’t really believe that, either. I do think this isn’t the final end-point for our society!)

    But the opiate epidemic is out of control. I’m happy to see that B.P. Fosella is trying to do something about the epidemic in a way that is consistent with Catholic teachings and when he speaks he refrains from language that would be degrading to those affected. I really don’t know why some conservatives do that. We all know people who were addicted. My friend lost a cousin whom he never got to meet. The kid moved here to SI from Germany, and died from a opiate lollipop. At the time the Advance printed his Dad saying he is ******* *** the ********. That was a while back. 15 years? Very sad, indeed. They are good people. The kid wasn’t raised to do that. But he did. Wasn’t even an addict. Was partying with friends.

    Addicts are people who need help. Not “garbage” or human refuse. A lot of us forget that. I get disappointed listening to some of you. That’s a eugenicist or devilish belief that those addicted are worthless. Jesus would be pissed that you didn’t see the person, not their affliction/sin/whatever. That is a sin.

    People of all classes and races got hooked. It’s been a sad couple of decades as we lost so many good souls on the island. I still can’t understand how people, moral people who seemed in every other way to be sensible, ended up sticking needles in their arms or taking unknown dosage Fentanyl powder or pills.

    They all end up giving up the charade sooner or later. But addicted people can fool you for years. Literally. Maybe we’re shown the random clues letting us know because the CREATOR cares about them.

    I remember my friend’s roommate moved into his place and the guy seemed weird. Kept to himself, was respectful, but always seemed tired. My friend found a very small baggie of what looked like hashish. We decided to test it because we felt something was off with this kid so we tested it by lighting a small amount directly into the air and sniffing to see if it was hash. I immediately knew that was a bad idea when I went numb. It smelled totally unfamiliar and made red smoke. Opiates are not for me and that was a bad move. I like cannabis. Opiates make me feel numb like I’m not there. It was actually black tar heroin. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! Be careful. We tested afterwards with a real test kit and it showed up red, the opiate color. So that kid was a drug addict? Apparently. We were shocked, but not really.

    And also, Mr. D.A. and Mr. B.P., can you please focus on prevention education? If kids do not get a watered down version of things, and get graphic photos of addicts after twenty years, etc., it may just work. Thank you. They need to know the brain chemistry and science at a young age. Like, “Kid, would you stick your finger in an electrical socket?” Hopefully, in 2023, most kids will say, “Heck, no!” and actually have a basic understanding of why that’s the case. Has to be the same for drugs.

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