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12/31/13 7:00am

Morning Roundup - December 31, 2013

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By Shawn Dwyer

News

12/30/13 7:30pm

Arizona Mother Drugged Kids, Attacked Husband on Christmas

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Connie Villa Photo via

On Christmas Day, an Arizona woman killed her eldest daughter by forcing her to take prescription narcotics while trying to poison her other three children. She then allegedly lured the father into the house where she stabbed him several times in the torso.

Casa Grande police said that 35-year-old Connie Villa was arrested on Sunday on one count of first degree murder and four counts of attempted murder after her husband, Adam Villa, managed to escape and call the police. When officers arrived, they found oldest daughter, Aniarael Macias, dead in the bathroom, and Connie in the kitchen surrounded by her other three children, ages 8, 5, and 3, while turning a knife on herself. She was treated for several self-inflicted stab wounds before being charged with her heinous crime.

The family released a statement about Aniareal, saying she "was a gentle, kind and beautiful spirit who was taken from us much too soon. Ania was always smiling, she loved her brothers and sister. We pray that justice will be served." Meanwhile, the small community of Casa Grande came together to help the grieving family to raise money in memory of the fallen teen. "As I've told many people, you never want to see a mother or father lose their own child,” said organizer Sarah Lamb. "We still have that sense of, I guess family almost. When we need to, we treat each other like family.”

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By Shawn Dwyer

drug-addled drivers

12/30/13 5:30pm

VIDEO: 'Drug-Crazed' Man Crashes Car Through Wal-Mart

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Haamid Ade Zaid Photo via

Police have released disturbing video of a “drug crazed” man crashing his car through the window of a Wal-Mart in San Jose, CA. The incident, which took place last Easter Sunday, resulted in the arrest of 33-year-old Haamid Ade Zaid. The man was reportedly high on meth at the time of the incident, with police describing his behavior as “paranoid” and “bizarre.”

After crashing his car through the store, Zaid allegedly got out and began beating three shoppers and a staff member with a metal bar. He was eventually tackled by other shoppers and restrained with belts until police could arrive. He has since been charged with two counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts of felony vandalism.

Police said they released the video with hopes of seeking out new information as well as the identities of some of the victims. "There may be some questions that are still unanswered," said San Jose Police officer Albert Morales. "Obviously the District Attorney's Office and investigators felt it was important to speak out to the people who were present that day to gather info."

Shockingly, this isn’t the first time that Zaid committed this kind of incident while on drugs. Last December, he drove his car through the glass doors of a gas station and was charged with two counts of hit and run and possession of meth.

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By McCarton Ackerman

drug testing the poor

12/30/13 3:30pm

Kansas Launches Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

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No food stamps for this guy. Photo via Shutterstock

Next year, Kansas will become the latest state to begin drug testing welfare recipients. The plan, which is not expected to start until July 1, will see Kansas joining nine other states in requiring those receiving government assistance to pass drug tests. Supporters of the plan say it prevents people from buying drugs with illegal money, but all signs point to the tests being a huge expense with very little benefit.

The new plan that Kansas has adopted will result in a drug test for people who are reasonably suspected of drug use and a removal of welfare benefits if they test positive. They can get back the benefits by undergoing a drug treatment and job skills program before successfully completing another drug test. A second positive result yields a 12-month suspension of benefits and a third positive test results in permanent removal of them.

However, the plan has been a flop in other states. Missouri spent about $500,000 on its welfare drug testing program, but only recorded 20 positive results and nabbed 200 others who refused to comply. The roughly 220 people that the program caught is less than 1% of the 32,000 people in the state who have applied for assistance since the testing began. “I think it’s just astronomical,” said Rep. Stacey Newman (D) of St. Louis County, MO. “It’s a horrible waste of state resources.”

In April 2012, Florida showed that only 2.6% of the welfare applicants in the state failed their drug tests - or 108 out of 4,086 in total. In addition, reimbursing the costs of the tests to welfare applicants who tested negative outweighed what the government would have disbursed to people who failed, ultimately costing the state $45,780. The lackluster benefits have resulted in two states this year, North Dakota and Virginia, rejecting bills that would have mandated drug testing for welfare recipients.

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By McCarton Ackerman

better not call saul

12/30/13 1:00pm

Defense Attorney for Pill Mill Doc Arrested for Selling Painkillers

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Sucks at peddling
pills. Photo via

Turns out you better not call Saul.

Gregory Robert Noonan, a Montgomery County, PA attorney who represented a physician charged with illegally distributing prescription pain pills just last month, has himself been charged with selling painkillers to an undercover Philadelphia police officer.

According to reports, Noonan was arrested within days of the high-profile trial after selling 179 oxycodone pills at $15 a pop to the undercover officer. A month later, the two arranged another meeting where Noonan sold the cops another 180 pills for some $3,200. He was arrested after the sale and was held up as an example of how the county is trying to battle the growing opiate abuse epidemic. “We are seeing a dramatic trend in Montgomery County of rising opiate abuse in both children and adults. We must stop this dangerous trend,” said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. “One of my priorities is to investigate and prosecute prescription pill traffickers. As you can see from this arrest of a lawyer and our recent successful prosecution of a doctor, no one is above the law, no matter what occupation they hold.”

Back in November, Noonan represented Dr. Richard R. Ruth in a well publicized trial that saw the physician and his son convicted of running a so-called pill mill. “They decimated a community by bringing people into their office, getting them addicted to drugs, which caused havoc in numerous people’s lives and families have been decimated because of their actions out of greed,” said Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.

At the time, Noonan put the blame for writing some 1,800 oxycodone prescriptions in less than one year squarely on the patients. “He took their word. He screwed up,” Noonan said. “He trusted them but that does not make Dr. Ruth a criminal. Are you going to fault him for trusting his patients?”

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By Shawn Dwyer

online gambling

12/30/13 10:30am

Online Gaming in NJ Sparks New Concerns About Addiction

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Photo via Shutterstock

New Jersey has long been a mecca for gambling ever since casinos were first introduced in Atlantic City in 1978. But with the advent of online gambling and its implementation in New Jersey last month, mental health and addiction professionals have been bracing themselves for the onslaught of gambling addicts that is sure to come.

According to research, the rate of problem gamblers grows with increased opportunity to gamble. "It may be enough to speed up addiction or push some people over the edge," said Donal Weinbaum, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling. "Persons in recovery are at some risk and there is definitely a great concern about a possible relapse." At the moment, seven Atlantic City casinos are running a variety of websites that offer everything from slot machines to table poker that can be accessed from any device, be it tablet or computer or smartphone. "It's always there, available any place and any time of day," said Weinbaum. "There are some safeguards built in but basically, it becomes a solitary activity that can become very tempting."

But it’s not just the widespread availability of the gambling sites that have caused concern. It’s also the privacy and anonymity of online gaming that has raised the most red flags. "I think online gambling eliminates the public stigma," said Nancy Douglas, a counselor at Stress Management Counseling Center in Clinton, NJ. "You can do it from the privacy of your own home, not going out in public having to look at people and have people see you repeatedly and wonder if perhaps you're addicted."

As of Dec. 22, more than 109,946 gambling accounts were created. Gov. Chris Christie’s budget has estimated $1 billion in casino revenue by July 2014.

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By Shawn Dwyer

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