Newspaper

Dec 19, 2014

Sheriff Warns Residents to Beware of IRS Scam

Sheriff Warns Residents to Beware of IRS Scam

December 18, 2014

 

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis is warning residents to be on guard against a sophisticated and aggressive IRS phone scam targeting tax payers.

 

The latest scam requests payment be made immediately to the Internal Revenue Service and provides the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction located in West Boylston, MA as a return phone number. Aimed at intimidating its victims, the scam perpetrators also mention there will be enforcement by Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis as well as the issuance of an arrest warrant if payment is not made. This is a scam — the IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS does not ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office does not issue calls or solicit payment on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service and is asking residents to be vigilant against this most recent IRS scam.

 

For more information or to report a scam, please visit: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Reiterates-Warning-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

Dec 18, 2014

Worcester County Officials: Communities Dealing with a ‘Vaping’ Problem

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Worcester County Officials: Communities Dealing with a ‘Vaping’ Problem

By Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

INHALING FROM ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE

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Area lawmakers and health officials are concerned that e-cigarettes

and so-called “vape” pens are landing in the hands of children.

WEST BOYLSTON — They may look like teenagers bent over a book in the library or grabbing things from their locker or ducking into the restroom with a pen in their mouth.

But in reality, the pen might be a device used to inhale vapors from the strongest form of THC, the chemical in marijuana that creates the high feeling people get when they use it.

“Oh, it’s very disturbing,” Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve with this.”

The sheriff’s programs have reached 120,000 students, but he now also wants parents to know what to look for if they suspect their child might be dabbling with drugs, and the new trend of “vaping,” as it’s called, has him worried.

“A year ago, the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year was selfie,” Sheriff Evangelidis said. “This year’s word is vape, and most people don’t know what it means but I’m afraid a year from now a lot of people will know it.”

The word vape dates back to 1983 when a article in “New Society” described a hypothetical device that could allow for the inhaling of vapors, the Oxford Dictionary’s website states. In 2009 the word began appearing in “mainstream sources,” the dictionary’s website explains.

Vaping comes from the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, something that in itself has health workers including Chief of Community Health in Worcester, Karyn E. Clark, concerned because the nicotine delivery devices aren’t regulated and are widely available and target young people.

The packaging for e-cigarettes and nicotine products sometimes mimics the bright colors and displays of candy, Mrs. Clark said. Young children are being increasingly exposed to liquid nicotine, which doesn’t come in child-proof containers and there are other dangers, as well.

There is also an impression that the vapor cigarettes are safer than smoking traditional tobacco products but the FDA hasn’t given approval for the devices and the long-term effects of vaping aren’t yet known, she said.

These days vaping has also come to mean inhaling vapors of THC three times stronger than those found in marijuana rolled into joints to be smoked. That process involves something users call a g-cigarette and “dabs,” “Oil,” “710” or “shatter;” small, sticky pieces of concentrated THC or an oily substance; all made using marijuana plants, butane, heat and parts easily found at hardware stores.

“It’s the most high you’ll ever get from smoking weed,” 24-year-old Zach said. He smoked dabs the first time before a planned golf outing and arrived at the course so stoned he had to go home. He slept for a while afterwards.

“It’s like smoking the whole joint in one hit,” he said.

Zach is clean now, part of the sheriff’s Community Connections program, but he’s doubtful he would have stopped using if he hadn’t gotten into trouble. He lost a good career as a tradesman and is trying to find a new direction for his life.

And while he doesn’t think vaping led him to higher level street drugs, he developed a Percocet addiction after an injury and when he couldn’t get the “percs” anymore, he turned to heroin. Despite his longtime fear of needles, he eventually began shooting up.

Brittney is 21. Her hair and makeup are perfect and it would probably come as a surprise to someone seeing her for the first time that when she wanted to be cool in high school she started smoking pot. Then she vaped.

“I was good after two hits,” she said. “I wasn’t really functionable. I wasn’t like trying to see my parents or anything.”

She said she wouldn’t recommend driving a car as high as she was and she suspects kids who are vaping in school are probably half asleep at their desks.

She believes that marijuana is a gateway drug and while she would rather smoke a joint than vape, she, too, ended up using heroin, had no self-esteem and said she sometimes didn’t care if she lived or died. She wound up in trouble and through the sheriff’s program is managing to stay sober.

Both former users said they don’t recommend getting involved with drugs at all and warned that anyone about to make the leap from pot to opioids ought to rethink that choice and get help.

The sheriff said he believes students could be vaping and doing it around unsuspecting adults. The pens used to vape are smokeless, pretty much odorless and it takes just a few seconds to “take a hit.”

The concentrate being vaped allows drug dealers to use the entire marijuana plant to make the dabs or shatter. Parts of the plant that would normally be discarded are stripped down with butane and made into the material for vaping, so marijuana growers get more bang for their buck, Zach explained.

A gram of dabs or shatter costs about $50, the same as an eight of a gram of leafy pot purchased in a bag for smoking, Zach said.

The fact that the vaping pens and the dabs or shatter are so readily available, are unregulated and can be easily used without drawing attention which, Sheriff Evangelidis said, is something parents should know.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of this,” he said. “There are always new developments in the drug culture. We’ve seen Molly, heroin and now this, and the kids usually know a lot about it before we do.”

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Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis holds a vape pen while discussing

how vaping THC is the new dangerous trend among young people.

Dec 17, 2014

Anna Maria Hosts Sheriff’s Office Recruit Graduation

Anna Maria Hosts Sheriff’s Office Recruit Graduation
By Peter Jasinski

The sound comes as a steady thrum, the continuous one-two beat of feet marching in place. It grows louder when they emerge from the back of the auditorium, a group of 25 making their way to the stage.

They are soon to be the most recent graduates of the Worcester County Sheriff ’s Office’s Basic Recruit Training Academy. Their motto is “Ductus Exemplo,” leadership by example.

“You started as 28 individuals and you finished 25 strong,” said Captain Christopher Brothers of the sheriff ’s office to the officers attending the graduation ceremony held at Anna Maria College on Dec. 12. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and I want to congratulate you for that.”

The ceremony marked the end of a 12-week journey for all 25 of the area’s newest correctional officers. In a county where 6,200 individuals are processed through the correctional system, the criteria for becoming one of the responsible officers is strict. Training covers not only the expected, such as defensive tactics and first responder classes, but also tactical driving and methods of suicide prevention and awareness.

Time spent not exercising or studying was often devoted to community service. During their 12 weeks, the correctional officers-in-training assisted with the ninth Annual Sheriff ’s Food Drive and donated to the Planting the Seed Foundation Toy Drive. Upon learning that the son of one of their training staff had a condition known as Alopecia, the officers entered a 5K race last month in order to raise money for the National Alopecia Foundation.

“Yes, we want to keep bad people off the streets, but we also have an obligation to work with these inmates who want to change,” said Class President Carlos Cataquet.

The training was grueling enough for Officer Cataquet to look back on exercises spent in burning buildings and being pepper-sprayed in the face as fond experiences. Overall, he feels time spent was overwhelmingly positive.

“As time went on, our struggles made us more unified as a family,” he said.

This family is not one that contains itself only in and around Worcester, but throughout the entire county. Now, they will find themselves moving to the places their new occupation asks of them, with each graduate moving on to a position within the sheriff ’s office.

“With the hiring standards that we’ve implemented, we really have some of the best and brightest in law enforcement you could see today,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis. “They were a phenomenal class. Everyone told me they were a very cohesive group that they stuck together closely and looked out for each other.”

Officer Joseph Armstrong was the recipient of the Lawrence P. Sullivan Fitness Award, with the Francis T. Foley Academic Award and Paul J. Westberg Class Banner Award going to Officers Joseph Hattabaugh and Matthew Coakley, respectively. Though only three awards were distributed, the class distinguished itself with an uncommonly high grade average of 89.3, a full point higher than the preceding class. The graduates also count four military veterans among them, with two members of the National Guard, one member of the Army, and one member of the Marine Corps.

“This job is not just walking the blocks. Remember, this is not ‘prison guards’ anymore, that’s an antiquated term,” said Sheriff Evangelidis. “These are correctional officers and they truly are trained to correct people, and that’s a challenging, hard job. I want them to know this is a new age and they’re representing a new wave.”

Dec 17, 2014

Sheriff’s Annual Drive Delivers 3,000 Winter Coats to Charities in Worcester County

Sheriff’s Annual Drive Delivers 3,000 Winter Coats to Charities in Worcester County

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Patrick Sargent, GoLocal Worcester Contributor

On Wednesday, Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis visited Leominster and Fitchburg charities to hand out winter coats. During his visit, Sheriff Evangelidis visited the Hope Center and Community Health Connections Center in Fitchburg and the Spanish American Center in Leominster. The Sheriff’s annual drive provided thousands new or lightly used jackets to area families.

 

“Sadly we have many families who struggle to pay their electric bills and heating bills and can not make ends meet, especially during the long winter months. The Sheriff’s Winter Coat Drive is a wonderful resource that we truly depend on each year to help keep our families warm.” said Spanish American Center Representative Nicolas Formaggia.

 

“We are extremely fortunate to have had Wachusett Mountain, Independent Cleaners and Twin City Cleaners as well as all of our wonderful community partners assist with this year’s coat drive by 
donating and dry cleaning thousands of winter jackets. This program would not be possible without their overwhelming generosity.” said Evangelidis.

 

In addition to the three Leominster and Fitchburg stops, the Sheriff delivered over 3,000 new and lightly used winter jackets to eleven charities throughout Worcester County including the Gardner 
CAC, Rutland Food Pantry, Tradewinds Clubhouse, Catholic Charities, Center of Hope of Southbridge, St. John’s Food Pantry of Worcester, Veteran’s Inc and the Human Services Food Pantry of 
Shrewsbury.

 

“The Sheriff’s Winter Coat Drive is to help ensure that local families who may be in need are provided with an adequate winter coat. With over 3,000 winter jackets collected during this year’s coat drive we were able to help even more families and children in need than in year’s past.” Evangelidis said .”As the cold weather months approach and especially during this difficult economic time, it is extremely important to do all we can to help those in our community who may be less fortunate.”

 

The Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff, the Fitchburg Office of Community Corrections, the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association and many local businesses.