QUEENSBURY - Drug dealers in upscale hotels in Queensbury and Lake George at taxpayer expense are selling heroin substitutes, county law enforcement agents told Warren
County officials last week.
Expressing outrage, the county officials, law enforcers and politicians together endorsed a plan to hire a part-time police officer to coordinate efforts to track down and prosecute the criminals.
County District Attorney Kate Hogan said some drug dealers, who claim to be homeless, are illegally obtaining multiple prescriptions of Oxycontin, Vicodin and Hydrocodone at government expense on Medicaid cards and selling them for a profit out of posh hotel rooms paid for by local taxpayers.
"I am livid that we all are collectively funding drug dealers and their inventory," Hogan said. Warren County investigator Steve Stockdale said local undercover agents were tracking drug sales occurring out of a variety of hotels and motels by up to two dozen dealers, some of whom invited their cohorts from the Capital Region.
He said that the dealers were local welfare recipients put up in the hotels for months at taxpayer expense, while receiving food stamps and some, cash assistance from the county.
District Attorney Kate Hogan said the combination of welfare benefits exceeded the income of some of her office employees.
"Several of my secretaries are getting less than some of these people on public assistance," she said.
Hogan and other county officials, noted they were not being critical of the local social Services administrators, as their hands were tied as to who qualifies for assistance under state law.
New Social Services Commissioner Sheila Weaver is doing a good job and has made "impressive progress," Hogan said, at reducing social service overhead, expenses and fraud.
"She's been a breath of fresh air for the county," Hogan said.
Weaver noted that under state guidelines, her Social Service Department is providing benefits to people who meet rigorous qualifications, including conducting intensive job searches, taking self-sufficiency courses and undergoing drug treatment, if needed.