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Phony Witnesses, and Another Suicide

In other news, UB researcher William Fals-Stewart was charged on Tuesday with attempted grand larceny, multiple counts of perjury, and identity theft, among other things. In 2004, Fals-Stewart was accused of “scientific misconduct for allegedly fabricating data in federally funded studies” while working at the Research Institute on Addictions. He is said to have inflated the number of volunteers who actually participated in his studies.

He convinced his interrogators that three of his witnesses were out of town and would have to phone in their testimonies. Then he hired three professional actors to play their parts, and provided them with scripts slanted to support his research. He told the actors they were being paid to perform in a mock trial. Based on the thespian testimony, he was exonerated.

Emboldened by his exoneration, he decided to sue the state for $4 million. He also accused the state university system of misusing federal funding by diverting money designated for specific projects into other projects. In 2008, UB conducted its own audit, and uncovered some “inconsistencies” in how they used some federal money. Last year, the US attorney’s office launched its own investigation.

There may still be other shoes to drop. Late last year, a Research Institute on Addictions study into malt liquor and marijuana use by young adults was singled out by John McCain as an example of wasteful stimulus spending, you will recall.

But since we’re here at the epicenter of knowledge on addictions, let’s also consider the strange case of Daniel Nye, the ninth suicide in the Erie County Holding Center since 2003. Nye was pulled over by Cheektowaga police for having a headlight out. He was then discovered to have a warrant out for a forgery charge. Then, he was found to have one Suboxone pill on him. That added a misdemeanor drug possession charge. Suboxone is typically used to treat heroin addiction. He was put in the holding center where he entered withdrawal, and then used his shoelaces to hang himself. The Buffalo News reported that only weeks before “a high-level administrator sent around an advisory informing the jail staff of the deep lows that hit heroin addicts coming off the drug.”

The despair addicts face kicking heroin has been widely reported in literary works as far back as 1953’s Junky by William S. Burroughs, and researched by experts in the field—including some research by William Fals-Stewart, who was invited to speak about it at the American Psychiatric Association in 2003. At the time, a congressional subcommittee highlighted his research as being among the “best”

Dye’s story sounds an awful lot like the case of Joseph Demouchette, an Illinois heroin addict who hanged himself in the Cook County Jail while in withdrawal in 2008. Cook County and the Cook County Sheriff are now battling a wrongful death case initiated on September 26, 2009.

Who knew how very expensive it could be to make sure our holding center does not provide prisoners with, as County Executive Chris Collins has put it, “the amenities, conveniences and services of a good hotel”?

buck quigley

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