Pa. officer admits to drug charge

Copyright 2006 The Morning Call, Inc.

Whitehall policeman fraudulently got painkillers, steroids.
Morning Call

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Whitehall Township police officer resigned on Friday, the day he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of fraudulently obtaining painkillers and steroids.

Michael DeLucia, 31, who had been with the department six years, was suspended after an investigation last year.

At a hearing in Lehigh County Court, DeLucia, of 517 Greenview Drive, Northampton, pleaded guilty to possession of controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

As part of a plea bargain, he will receive a minimum sentence of no more than the time he already has served in jail, which is about 30 days. The maximum term of up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine will be up to Judge Robert L. Steinberg, who will sentence DeLucia on June 21.

DeLucia, who is free on bail, also had been charged with assaulting his estranged wife, Jodi DeLucia, in her Coplay home in May after an argument.

First Assistant District Attorney Maria Dantos said the prosecution will withdraw a simple assault charge.

Dantos said that Jodi DeLucia at times had been reluctant to proceed with the case. Jodi DeLucia agreed with the resolution, according to Dantos.

The prosecution is requiring Michael DeLucia to write a letter of apology to the Whitehall Police Department. He resigned his position, effective Friday, Dantos said.

Michael DeLucia works as a fitness consultant at LA Fitness Sports Clubs in South Whitehall Township.

State Trooper Paul Romanic, who investigated the case, said it was a difficult one because he had to arrest another law enforcement officer. He said the investigation was conducted in the same way one involving a civilian would have been.

Romanic told the judge he doesn't think that DeLucia understands the gravity of what he did.

Many police officers, Romanic said, work hard every day, and their reputations are tainted by acts such as DeLucia's.

The investigation began in May when a trooper interviewed Jodi DeLucia in the emergency room of a local hospital. She said that her husband had choked her and held her against a glass shower door.

During that interview, Jodi DeLucia gave the trooper information about her husband, which spurred another investigation, according to Dantos.

Romanic determined that Michael DeLucia had been obtaining hydrocodone, a habit-forming narcotic painkiller, over the Internet from online pharmaceutical companies from April 2004 to October 2005.

In April 2005, Michael DeLucia used a police department fax machine to send a doctor's examination form to a pharmaceutical company. The form, which appeared as though it had been signed by a doctor, said Michael DeLucia suffered from chronic lower back pain.

The doctor whose name was on the form does exist but had not seen Michael DeLucia and had not signed the form.

During the investigation, Romanic learned that painkillers had been sent to Michael DeLucia's home on Oct. 4, 2005.

Troopers executed a search warrant two days later and found painkillers, different types of steroids and needles used to inject steroids.

One recently shipped container of pills was marked as holding 120 and contained 62. The missing 58 pills aroused the judge's interest.

Steinberg asked where the pills went between Oct. 4 when they were shipped and Oct. 6 when the search warrant was executed.

"Can one person consume 58 pills in two days and live?" the judge asked.

When the investigation ended last year, state police said Michael DeLucia was charged with obtaining, using and selling prescription painkillers and steroids.

Dantos said there was evidence that Michael DeLucia had been selling painkillers and steroids during the last few years.

If the case had gone to trial, the prosecution had witnesses who were willing to testify against DeLucia, even though he had been a police officer, she said.

She said the sentence DeLucia could have gotten in a possession with intent to deliver prescription drugs case would have been in the same range as the one he will get for the charge to which he entered a plea.

"The most important aspect of this case is to have him held accountable, and I believe we have accomplished that very well," Dantos said.

She noted that DeLucia, who had no criminal record, resigned from the department, spent a month in jail and won't be able to work in law enforcement again because of the felony conviction.

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