Joseph Colao, a New Jersey physician who died in 2007, ran a thriving illegal drug enterprise that supplied anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighters throughout New Jersey, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. In the first in a three-part series, the newspaper says that from a seemingly above-board practice in Jersey City, Colao frequently broke the law and his own oath by faking medical diagnoses to justify his prescriptions for the drugs.
Many of the officers and firefighters willingly took part in the ruse, finding Colao provided an easy way to obtain tightly regulated substances that are illegal without a valid prescription. Others were persuaded by the physician's polished sales pitch, one that glossed over the risks and legal realities. A small percentage may have legitimately needed the drugs to treat uncommon medical conditions. In most cases, they used their government health plans to pay for the substances. The total cost to taxpayers reaches into the millions of dollars. In just over a year, at least 248 officers and firefighters from 53 agencies used Colao's fraudulent practice to obtain muscle-building drugs, some of which have been linked to increased aggression, confusion, and reckless behavior.