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9/05/14 8:30am

Philadelphia Couple Has Home Seized After Son's Heroin Bust



A hard-working Philadelphia couple had their house seized due to their son’s drug bust, even though the parents have never been charged with a crime.

Yianni Sourovelis, 22, was booked on drug charges last January after police arrested him for possessing $40 worth of heroin and later accused him of selling drugs out of the home. But six weeks later, police and prosecutors came with an armed lawsuit and seized the house of Christos and Markella Sourovelis. Although they accepted that the married couple committed no wrongdoing, authorities used a civil forfeiture law to seize the home since it was tied to illegal drugs.

"It discourages crime and it takes the ill-gotten gains away from the bad people. It’s a good law. It works,” said CNN legal analyst and consumer attorney Brian Kabateck. “That doesn't mean that it doesn't sometimes have issues that need to be corrected. The system constantly has to change."

The Sourvelis’ were forced to sleep on the couch of a family member for over a week before facing a prosecutor from the DA’s office and convincing them to let them back into the house. But after their son pleaded no contest to the drug charges, they could only be let back in on the guarantee their son was banned from the house.

"To me I'm home, but I feel violated at this point,” said Markella. “I'm doing things in my house, but I wonder if it’s always going to be my house. Are they going to take it one day like that?"

Philadelphia is one of the most aggressive cities in the world when it comes to civil forfeitures. In the last decade, the city has seized 1,000 houses, 3,300 vehicles, and $44 million in cash. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office said that in the last three years, around $7 million from these forfeitures went straight to the salaries for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office and the city police department.

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By McCarton Ackerman


9/05/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Sept. 5, 2014


Don't try this at home.
Seriously. Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

drinkable weed

9/04/14 7:30pm

Drinkable Marijuana Coming Soon


Photo via

One Washington-based company has invited the "prohibition" comparison that pot legalization proponents like to draw and created "Legal," an aptly-named marijuana-infused bottled beverage.

Two months after the smokable and edible forms of marijuana became legal in the state, weed is now available in drinkable form at eight of the 22 recreational marijuana stores in Washington. Legal comes in five different flavors. While all the flavors carry 22 milligrams of THC—"enough to know that you're high, but not so much as to overwhelm," founder Adam Stites said—each flavor's high will hit you in a different way.

The cold brew with milk and sugar says it provides “an uplifting, euphoric head high and a gentle body buzz," while sparkling lemon ginger flavor will provide a completely different experience. "Couch, meet butt," the product description says. "This delicious fusion of tangy lemon and spicy ginger is so ridiculously relaxing that you may find yourself becoming one with your furniture. Whether you’re melting into a beach blanket or parked on the sofa, prepare for many glorious hours of doing absolutely nothing."

Stites says the product should be more familiar and less "taboo" feeling than smoking the drug. "It’s much more approachable, as opposed to ‘Hey, mom and dad, do you want a joint?'” he said. “It's an opportunity to make an amazing, unique, unusual, and delicious product while also making history. I think my grand-kids will be amazed to know that people used to go to jail for having a plant.”

The drink hit store shelves in July.

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By Bryan Le

synthetic drugs

9/04/14 5:30pm

Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Synthetic Drug Deaths


Photo via

A Texas man was sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison last Thursday for selling synthetic drugs that resulted in the deaths of two teenagers.

In March, Charles Carlton, 29, of Katy, Texas pleaded guilty to three counts, which included conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death, introduction and delivery of a misbranded drug, and money laundering.

According to investigators, Carlton sold the chemicals to Andrew Spofford, who “cooked up” the drugs that killed Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, N.D. and Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn. The two died within a week of each other in June 2012 after ingesting the drugs. Spofford was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.

Carlton owned 51% of Motion Resources LLC, a former Houston company that allegedly imported controlled substances to the United States from Asia and Europe, making hundreds of thousands of dollars by reselling them over the internet to domestic buyers. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, who sentenced Carlton, ordered him to pay back $385,000 in drug profits.

According to federal prosecutor Chris Meyers, despite hearing about the deaths of Bjerk and Stai, Carlton continued to sell the chemicals and even filled out paperwork to change the name of the company.

“It all rests on that initial decision to sell drugs for money. It’s as bad as it gets,” Erickson said.

Carlton, who had faced a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole before his sentencing, tearfully apologized to the Bjerk family at a hearing. “If I could turn back the hands of time, I would,” he said. “I have two children of my own, and what happened to your children is my greatest fear as a parent.”

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By Victoria Kim

brain on drugs

9/04/14 3:30pm

Researchers Reveal New Images of Cocaine's Effect on the Brain


Your brain on drugs. Literally. Photo via

Drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine damage the brain’s blood vessels and can cause aneurysm-like bleeding and strokes. Due to the limitations of current imaging tools, however, scientists were not able to observe the minute details of cocaine’s effects on the brain’s blood vessels.

But a new method developed by researchers from Stony Brook University and the U.S. National Institutes of Health has made it possible to better understand how drug abuse affects the brain.

The research, which was published last Thursday in the Optical Society’s open access journal Biomedical Optics Express, revealed high resolution images using the new and improved method called optical coherence Doppler tomography (ODT). The researchers were able to observe exactly how cocaine affects the tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, in the brain of a mouse.

The images revealed a dramatic drop in blood flow speed after 30 days of chronic cocaine injection or even after just repeated acute cocaine injection. For the first time ever, researchers were able to identify cocaine-induced microischemia, or when blood flow is shut down, which is a precursor to a stroke.

Previous techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) do not provide a high enough resolution to study what goes on inside capillaries. But ODT offers a wide field of view at high resolution which allows researchers to determine how fast the blood is flowing. Measuring blood flow is crucial to understanding how the brain is working.

“We show that quantitative flow imaging can provide a lot of useful physiological and functional information that we haven’t had access to before,” said Yingtian Pan, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University.

This new technique could help improve brain cancer surgery and tissue engineering, as well as treatment options for recovering drug addicts.

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By Victoria Kim

dumb and dumber

9/04/14 1:00pm

Missouri Duo Allegedly Posted Selfie With Dead Friend After Drug Overdose


Chelsie Berry. Photo via

A Southwest Missouri duo is awaiting trial after allegedly posing for a selfie next to the body of their friend who died of a drug overdose.

Chelsie Berry, 24, and Jared Prier, 26, are being held in Newton County Jail on $50,000 bond after being charged with voluntary manslaughter and abandonment of a corpse in the death of 30-year-old Dennis Meyer. He reportedly died on August 21 due to an overdose of the painkiller Dilaudid.

Berry told police that after Meyer injected himself with the Dilaudid, he “started acting 'crazy' by pulling his penis out and saying strange things." Concerned by his behavior, she called Prier and the trio drove to a convenience store, where they discovered Meyer had stopped breathing when they had returned from purchasing items.

But rather than call an ambulance, she and Prier posed for a selfie with the body in the car. The pair allegedly drove around “looking for a place to dump the body” before settling on a rural Newton County driveway. Berry said she was afraid to call for help because she and Prier were high on meth and Xanax at the time, but of course that didn’t stop them from posting their morbid selfie to Facebook.

This isn’t the first time a similar incident has taken place. Nineteen-year-old Dylan Owens passed away last October after three of his friends injected him with heroin and later posted photos of his dead body to Facebook. Despite three people being present at the time, only 22-year-old Maddison Rogers was charged with a crime in the form of involuntary manslaughter.

"There were three people there, there were three people involved and they should all pay for what they did to Dylan,” said his mother, Tina Owens. “I don't know why they would do that, I don't know why they'd be so callous and cruel and heartless. Dylan would have my back and I want to have his and I just want justice."

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By McCarton Ackerman


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