BALTO – In a surprise, early-morning raid that left elderly residents clutching their chests, thirty-five DEA agents descended on a local hospice in search of weapons and narcotics. The raid, dubbed Operation Pacemaker, is part of a larger effort to crack down on clinics, hospices and so-called “elder-care” centers that use federal funds. Nabbed in the raid were three vials of Percocet, six Vicodans, two half-eaten Oxycontins, a cane, and a case of Ensure. Also nabbed was 96-year old, Vincent Pinelli, sought in connection with several parking violations. Mr. Pinelli, who lunged at officers yelling, “Bonzai!” will be arraigned this morning at Flubug Memorial Hospital where he was taken after he collapsed in an apparent suicide attempt.
Commenting on the raid, Mayor Bobby Ornrey, whose Crossley Nursing Home vies for the same federal funds, applauded the move as long overdue and added, “The vermin who run this place are no different than drug dealers, turning our elderly citizens into drug-crazed animals.”
Lieutenant Davison of the DEA concured. “You wouldn’t believe what I saw when we got there. Patients so wasted they couldn’t get out of bed. Others too wobbly to walk. Some didn’t even know what day it was, like the woman who asked if I was General MacArthur. The animals who run this place should be jailed for the rest of their lives.”
And the Lieutenant may get his wish.
June Aristede, the proprietor who’s operated the facility since its inception in 1996, now faces six counts of distributing narcotics to an elder citizen, one count of harboring a dangerous fugitive and a federal weapons charge stemming from the metal-tipped cane. She also faces the possibility of paying restitution or funeral expenses for her elder victims, many of whom were still milling around the facility when this article went to press.
At a press conference held on the steps of the now-shuttered hospice, defense attorney, Dustin Ashe, characterized the DEA as “a pack of unregulated thugs” and insisted his client did nothing beyond her normal duties as hospice administrator. “Did she distribute drugs? Of course. That’s what they do in a hospice! They distribute drugs so seniors won’t suffer in their last days on earth. Only the DEA would see that as a crime!”
Whether his arguments stand up in court will be seen in the days ahead. The trial is set to begin in Down County Federal Court on December19th.