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Chester woman arrested for straw purchase of nine guns

Chester woman arrested for straw purchase of nine guns

Media, PA – Today District Attorney Jack Whelan, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, and Commissioner Otis Blair announced the arrest of Vikki Towns-Perez 35, who is facing felony charges for the straw purchase of (9) nine firearms which she sold illegally on the street for money. The arrest is the conclusion of a joint investigation conducted by the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Chester Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) with assistance from Delaware County Adult Probation & Parole and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

Vikki Towns-Perez, 35, of the 800 block of W. 3rd Street in Chester, is charged with nine counts of the following charges: (1) firearm ownership and providing false information, (2) firearm ownership and duty of another person and (3) tampering with public records, all felony charges. She is also charged with false statements and false reports to law enforcement and related charges. If convicted on at least two charges, Towns-Perez faces a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence under the Brad Fox Law.

Towns-Perez was arraigned in Linwood District Court and remanded to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility after failing to post $10,000 bail.

As part of an ongoing investigation by the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division and the ATF, Detective David Tyler of the District Attorney’s CID Gun Trafficking Unit launched an investigation on January 21, 2016, into the possible straw purchase of multiple guns. Through the course of the investigation, Detective Tyler determined that Towns-Perez purchased nine handguns between February 2012 and May 2013. All of the guns were purchased by her and registered in her name, with several of the guns being the same make and model, including multiple .9mm Kel-Tec handguns.

During an interview with authorities, Towns-Perez stated that she had purchased all nine guns for her nephew who she believed had been convicted of several crimes and therefore was not able to purchase guns for himself. Her nephew would describe the gun he wanted, give Towns-Perez cash to pay for the gun which she would purchase in exchange for $150-200 in cash profit. During an interview with authorities, Towns-Perez stated that she would meet her nephew in the 2600 block of Boyle Street in the Highland Gardens neighborhood of Chester and exchange the guns for the money.

Of the nine guns that were straw purchased, five have been recovered by authorities, all of which were used in felony crimes.

Towns-Perez is currently in police custody and will be arraigned in Linwood District Court. Since 2014, Delaware County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted and convicted five individuals for the straw purchase of guns under the Brad Fox Law which went into effect in January 2013. Towns-Perez is the sixth individual to be arrested by authorities in Delaware County for the straw purchase of guns.

At the press conference, District Attorney Whelan announced that the Gun Trafficking Unit is working closely with local, state and federal authorities in law enforcement to crack down on the illegal transfer and straw purchase of firearms and reduce crime in the city of Chester.

In partnership with police departments in Delaware County, the Office of the District Attorney launched an anti-crime straw purchase campaign to raise awareness about the serious charges associated with the illegal transfer of guns and to make it known that those who commit gun crimes will be prosecuted.

“We know that the vast majority of the illegal guns on the streets used for violence and crime are a result of straw purchases,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “In the case of Vikki Towns-Perez, she purchased these guns without any regard for the law, knowingly giving them to an individual she believed to be a criminal.  I would like to commend Det. Tyler for leading the investigation with the ATF into these guns and commend Officer Patrick Flynn of the Chester Police Department along with Sgt. Nick Maraini and Sgt. Kevin Scanlan of the Delaware County’s Sheriff’s Warrant Division and Jeffrey Roney of Adult Probation & Parole and Probation Officer Lynette Mosely for their assistance in locating the defendant.”

Deputy District Attorney George B. Dawson who is Chief of the Anti-Violence Unit is prosecuting.

 

OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY - DELAWARE COUNTY COURTHOUSE MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19063 - 610-891-4161

JOHN J. WHELAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY . | . JOSEPH A. RYAN, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,  DATE:  April 12, 2017

 

CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4943

 

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Delaware County Announces Second Chance Court

Delaware County Announces Second Chance Court

Delaware County Councilman Dave White, Judge John P. Capuzzi Sr., and District Attorney Jack Whelan announced the Second Chance Court Program on March 9. The program allows defendants whose minor crimes are rooted in drug use to be connected with treatment and rehabilitation in the early stages of the criminal justice process. Second Chance Court implements an early system of assessment in the pretrial phase, to divert low to moderate risk offenders into treatment as soon as possible after their initial court appearance. The program is designed to be a proactive intervention aimed at addressing potential substance abuse issues and reducing offender recidivism.

Delaware County Heroin Task Force appoints two new members

 

Media, PA –District Attorney Jack Whelan and Delaware County Councilman Dave White introduced two new members to the Delaware County Heroin Task Force, Senator Tom Killion and Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Capuzzi. Formed in Sept. 2012, the Task Force is comprised of government leaders, healthcare professionals, treatment providers, law enforcement, and even a realtor to address the theft of prescription drugs from medicine cabinets during open houses. 

“Together, Senator Killion and Judge Capuzzi bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table on local issues, the legislative process and the criminal justice system. Their input and partnership is a crucial part of our next steps to address addiction in taking a more collaborative, more comprehensive approach to the problem and recovery process,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan.  

In April, Delaware County Council and the Heroin Task Force added another strategy to its battle against addiction through the Recovery Specialist Program. Now, when an overdose victim is taken to a hospital in Delaware County, certified recovery specialists are notified and connect that individual to treatment.

In partnership with efforts by the Delaware County Heroin Task Force, local police and emergency medical responders, there has been success in reviving overdose victims with the opioid antidote Narcan. Since Delaware County police officers were authorized to administer the life-saving drug naloxone to overdose victims in late 2014, officers have saved the lives of 260 individuals. Leaders recognize the next critical step is connecting those survivors immediately to stop the addiction cycle. The goal of the Recovery Specialist program is to continue to work with the county's seven emergency room teams to reach overdose survivors and connect them with a recovery specialist to obtain treatment.

Councilman Dave White noted that the use of Narcan by police and the recovery specialist program are only parts to the drug epidemic fight and emphasized the importance of collaboration.  “We recognize that reviving an overdose victim with Narcan is not a cure all. We have to address what happens after. Treating and ending their addiction is our ultimate goal,” said Councilman White. “We attacking this epidemic through law enforcement, in emergency rooms, through education in our schools, public outreach, treatment and now working with our legislators and state officials to increase funding for treatment and ultimately reduce access to prescription drugs,” said Councilman White. 

Through the mobile drug drop box program, community collections and the installation of permeant drug drop boxes at all police stations and the Government Center located in Media,  more than 11,000 pounds of unused, unwanted drugs has been collected and destroyed by the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division.  For locations of the 40 Delaware County medicine drop boxes, visit www.co.delaware.pa.us.

Along with the law enforcement component to reduce drug-related crime, the Heroin Task Force continues to focus on prevention through education and awareness. Parents, teachers and community leaders play an important role in that effort, to educate youth about the dangers of prescription drugs. Funded by Delaware County Council, the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) program has provided prevention programs to all Delaware County schools and has reached over 15,000 middle and high school students.

Those who have lost a loved one to addiction are invited to the NOPE Overdose Awareness Vigil on June 18 starting at 6:00 pm at the Upper Chichester Municipal Building located at 8500 Furey Road in Boothwyn. Delaware Councilman David White is serving as keynote speaker. There will also be words of recovery from Brandon Novak, professional skateboarder, actor, stuntman, and friend of Bam Margera from the television series “Jackass.”  Attendees are asked to bring a framed photograph of their loved one to place on the remembrance table during the vigil or upload their picture to the NOPE Task Force website Memorial Wall at www.nopetaskforce.org.

Delaware County police first in world to use new lifesaving drug

Joined by Delaware County police chiefs and members of the Delaware County Heroin Task Force, District Attorney Jack Whelan and Delaware County Councilman Dave White announced that police officers in Delaware County will be first in the world to carry and administer a newly developed nasal version of naloxone for emergency treatment of an opioid overdose. NARCAN® (naloxone HCI) Nasal Spray is the only FDA approved, ready-to-use, needle-free nasal spray version of naloxone. 

Developed by Adapt Pharma, located in Radnor Township with its global headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, the NARCAN Nasal spray was purchased by Delaware County Council through federal grant funding. Each of the nearly 400 police vehicles in Delaware County will be equipped with two 4 mg NARCAN Nasal Spray applicators at a cost of $37.50 per dose. 

Authorities believe it has been crucial for police in Delaware County to have naloxone since they are often first on the scene. Experts say those early minutes can be the key to saving a life. It is believed that the new NARCAN Nasal Spray could make a life-saving difference in those moments because the nasal spray device is easier to use and requires no assembly.

 “We are fortunate to have outstanding police officers here in Delaware County, many who consider naloxone just another tool to perform the job they are sworn to do,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “However, to us, and the families of those experiencing an overdose, they are heroes. Every day, they are literally bringing people back to life, who will hopefully seek treatment to overcome their addiction.” 

While not a substitute for emergency medical care, timely administration of naloxone can help rapidly reverse the life-threatening breathing difficulties that an opioid overdose may cause until emergency medical care can be administered.

“We know the first few minutes, and even seconds are crucial when responding to an overdose. NARCAN Nasal Spray takes just seconds to open and use,” said Delaware County Councilman Dave White. “Our goal is to equip our police officers with the most effective tools we can in order to save as many lives as possible.”

Delaware County became the first in Pennsylvania to save a life with naloxone after David’s Law was passed in Nov. 29, 2014 when the District Attorney’s Office partnered with police chiefs to develop a county-wide naloxone program, funded by Delaware County Council through grant funding. 

The law enforcement naloxone program has since become a model program for police departments across the state. In just over one year since that law was passed, police in Delaware County have saved 171 lives with the use of naloxone. According to officials the average age of an overdose victim saved by police in Delaware County is 31-years old, with the youngest being 19-years of age and the oldest, 68-years of age. Despite the repeated efforts and response by police, who are often the first on scene, coupled with the use of naloxone by EMS and first responders, the number of heroin-related deaths in Delaware County continues to rise, and doubled with an estimated 101 deaths in 2015 as compared to 52 in 2014 according to the Delaware County medical examiner. In 2015, there were a total of 191 drug deaths in Delaware County.

Anyone who uses prescription opioids to manage chronic pain, or who uses heroin, is potentially at risk of experiencing an accidental, life-threatening or fatal opioid overdose from the misuse of those products.  “Whether it is a child who gets into the family medicine cabinet, a senior citizen who accidentally overdoses on their pain medication or  an addict who encounters a “bad batch” of heroin – all of these lives matter and are worth saving,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. "Time and time again, our police officers are bringing people back from the brink of death, demonstrating that they are there to protect and serve the public, no matter what the circumstance.”

District Attorney Jack Whelan noted that the success of the naloxone initiative along with other efforts to reduce heroin use was made possible through the existing partnership between law enforcement, the community, Task Force coalition members, behavioral health members and educators. The Task Force was formed by the District Attorney and Delaware County Council in Sept. 2012 to combat the growing issue of prescription drug and heroin use after county officials saw an alarming rate of deaths.  Over three years, the Task Force has launched several initiatives based on prevention, education and awareness including the installation of 40 drug drop boxes and partnering with the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) Task Force to provide prevention education in schools. The latest initiative, the county-wide NARCAN Nasal Spray program, includes a partnership with Adapt Pharma, the newest member of the Heroin Task Force. 

“Adapt Pharma is thrilled that Delaware County will become the first customer to receive NARCAN Nasal Spray, the only FDA-approved, needle-free nasal spray formulation of naloxone,” said Matt Ruth, U.S. Chief Commercial Officer of Adapt Pharma. “Adapt is proud that our home county has become a role model within Pennsylvania, and the country, by increasing access to naloxone and combating our nation’s growing opioid overdose epidemic.”

According to Adapt Pharma, NARCAN Nasal Spray will be available to consumers to be dispensed by a pharmacist without a prescription in the early spring from certain participating retail pharmacies. For more information and instructions on the use of NARCAN Nasal Spray, visit www.narcannasalspray.com.

Currently, naloxone is available at various pharmacies throughout Delaware County.  Family members and friends can access this medication by obtaining a prescription from their family doctor or by using the standing order, a prescription written for the general public, issued by the PA Physician General.  The standing order is kept on file at many pharmacies, or can be downloaded from the Pennsylvania Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov. While your local pharmacy may not have naloxone in stock, pharmacies are generally able to order naloxone. Always seek emergency medical assistance in the event of a known or suspected opioid emergency after administration of naloxone. 

 

Delaware County Summit focuses on large scale events including Papal Visit

In just over three months, more than 2 million visitors from around the world will come to the Philadelphia region to celebrate mass with Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in September. In anticipation of this historical occasion and the inevitable impact that the visit will have on the region and surrounding counties, District Attorney Jack Whelan has partnered with Neumann University to hold a day-long summit for educators, school leaders, and public safety agencies, offering resources for schools to prepare for large scale events and transportation plans to events outside the county, including the World Meeting of Families.

In partnership with Neumann University, a catholic University Founded and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office is bringing together leaders of public safety agencies that are tasked with safety and security responsibilities at large public events who will share how they mitigate risk through collaborative planning and by aggressively maintaining situational awareness during events. At the summit, resources from local, county, state and federal public safety partners will be offered to schools, to help educators with event planning so that they can lead more confidently. Additionally, a new interactive program on active shooters will be presented by the Pennsylvania State Police.

For 17 years the District Attorney has been holding Safe Schools Summits, partnering with school officials, public safety officials and first responders to improve school safety in Delaware County. This year’s summit at Neumann University attracted more than 250 educators, first responders, and public safety officials and expanded to include schools, colleges and universities from across southeastern Pennsylvania.

District Attorney Jack Whelan expressed the importance of being prepared in the face of large scale public events including the upcoming Papal visit.  “The visit of Pope Francis will be a time for the Philadelphia region and for Delaware County to celebrate the critical role of family here and around the world,” said Whelan.  “The visit creates a unique opportunity for Delaware County schools to provide their students with a once in a life-time opportunity in experiencing an international event in their own backyard. With the support of Delaware County Council, we are doing everything possible to equip our first responders with the resources they need to support schools’ plans to celebrate this historic occasion while ensuring the safety of our schools.”

Topics to be covered include the importance of organizational leadership in safety planning and response; how to identify internal and external threats; tools to utilize social media as an intelligence resource; quick actions guides for threats or acts of violence; the importance of transit safety for your group; and planning for medical emergencies.
 
A broad range of agencies will present at the summit to offer resources, including the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office Bomb Squad, Pennsylvania State Police, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The United States Attorney’s Office, Philadelphia Fire Department EMS Division, the United States Secret Service and the FBI Domestic Terrorism Squad.