Detroit police officer faces life in prison,
charged with drug conspiracy and lying to the FBI
By Valerie D. Lockhart
SUN EXECUTIVE EDITOR
A Detroit police officer was recently indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring with members of a drug trafficking gang to distribute drugs and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Christopher Staton, 51, of Detroit faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine, if convicted of the drug conspiracy charge and a $250,000 fine for giving a false statement to a FBI agent.
“We are disappointed in the actions of Officer Christopher Staton, as they have left a stain on our department,” said Chief of Police James Craig. “However, the action of this officer does not reflect the values of our department and the men and women who serve honorably in keeping our communities safe. Our focus has been and will continue to be building trust and combating the existence of illegal activity within our communities.”
Staton is accused of joining forces with 10 members of a drug cartel to distribute heroin, cocaine and fentanyl from 2012 to 2017. He is also charged with providing them with sensitive law enforcement information that included arrest records and vehicle registrations.
“When an officer of the law violates the community’s trust and breaks his or her oath to protect and serve, the FBI will ensure they answer for their crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Detroit Division of the FBI. “(The) indictment reflects an individual officer’s betrayal of his oath and his fellow officers. It should not take away from the outstanding work conducted every day by the men and women of the Detroit Police Department.”
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ report, Substance Use in Michigan, over 11 million prescriptions for opioids were filled in 2016 that were “enough for at least one opioid prescription for every person in Michigan.”
Statistics released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveal that 1,762 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Michigan in 2016. It also notes that this is a “rate of 18.5 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000.”
“Detroit Police Officers are outstanding public servants, and the corrupt actions of just this one defendant should not undermine the public’s overall trust in law enforcement,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “Given the magnitude of the opioid crisis, the allegations are especially troubling that this defendant was actively helping drug dealers evade police detection and distribute large quantities of poisonous drugs.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation investigated.
“The Detroit Police Department is a long standing partner in our efforts to protect the community from drug traffickers and its related violence,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon. “The indictment of this single officer in no way diminishes the hard work provided by so many Detroit Police Officers on a daily basis. This indicted officer willingly contributed to the destruction that drug trafficking brings to our neighborhoods. Make no mistake, when any officer crosses the line and becomes a drug trafficker or co-conspirator, the DEA and our law enforcement partners will be relentless in bringing them to justice.”
Hepititis A vaccination urged for high risk groups
LANSING, Mich. – It’s been more than two years since public health officials began battling a hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan, and as of Nov. 7 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reporting 905 cases. In comparison, the state recorded 327 cases 2011-2015.
Although weekly counts have slowed from 15-20 cases per week to about three cases a week, numbers are still above average and public health officials continue to urge vaccination. This outbreak continues to have a high hospitalization rate, with 726 people hospitalized (80.2 percent) and 28 deaths.
“Our local health department partners have been instrumental in slowing this epidemic through outreach efforts and vaccination clinics targeted towards high risk individuals,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “With vaccine available, all residents are encouraged to discuss their risk factors with their doctor or local health department.”
Those with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration and men who have sex with men (MSM) are thought to be at greater risk of contracting the disease
“This has been the largest person-to-person hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan’s history,” Wells said. “It’s imperative that Michigan residents get vaccinated to protect themselves and prevent the further spread of this outbreak in Michigan communities. Talk to your health care provider to see if you are at risk of getting hepatitis A.”
Getting vaccinated, practicing good hand washing and avoiding sex with infected partners are ways to prevent getting infected. The hepatitis A vaccine is available at local pharmacies, through healthcare providers and at local health departments.
Vaccination clinics have been held at local health departments, homeless shelters and venues popular with the MSM population in an effort to go where these populations are likely to be present. More than 268,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in outbreak jurisdictions. In addition, emergency departments have been screening for hepatitis A and offering vaccination.
Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A and spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex or by living with an infected person.
Hepatitis A symptoms can include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Yellowing of the skin and eyes
• Belly pain
• Dark urine
• Feeling tired
• Pale-colored feces (poop)
• Joint pain
• Loss of appetite
For more information about hepatitis A, including a calendar of vaccination clinics, visit Michigan.gov/hepatitisAoutbreak.
Beaumont, Universal Health partner on new project
to enhance mental health services
PRNewswire/ -- Beaumont Health and Universal Health Services (NYSE: UHS) have formed a joint venture to address the growing, unmet need for accessible, high-quality and advanced mental health services in Southeast Michigan and across the state.
Beaumont selected UHS, one of the nation's largest and most respected mental health hospital management companies, as its partner because of its long-standing commitment to patient and family-centered care, strong clinical outcomes and proven track record of partnering with academic, regional networks and community-based entities. UHS operates more than 200 mental health hospitals serving more than 600,000 patients annually across the country. UHS will be the majority owner of the joint venture and will oversee the day-to-day operations and management of the new mental health facility.
"The shortage of resources for mental health is a national problem and very much one here in Southeast Michigan," Beaumont Health President and CEO John Fox said. "Beaumont and UHS intend to substantially fill that gap by providing specialized care for patients, along with investing in medical residencies, clinical training and the latest in telehealth technology."
The mental health partnership strategy will include:
• construction of a new, dedicated mental health hospital – a $40 million initiative, expanding more than 100,000-square-feet, that will double Beaumont's current capacity for inpatient mental health care;
• a continued commitment to highly specialized academic training programs, including the addition of Beaumont graduate medical education programs in psychiatry, psychopharmacology and other clinical training opportunities;
• enhanced and expanded intensive day programs and outpatient care.
"UHS is extremely pleased to be working with Beaumont Health, a premier organization, to provide these critically needed services in Michigan," Universal Health Services Executive Vice President and President of the Behavioral Health Division Debbie Osteen said. "We continue to expand upon our joint venture partnerships with health care organizations across the country. Our mutual goal is always to provide patients and their loved ones with compassionate and high-quality mental health care, services and support."
Construction will begin in early 2019 on the 150-bed, free-standing hospital, which will be located across the street from Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, on eight acres of vacant land on Oakwood Boulevard, near the Southfield Freeway. The facility is expected to open in early to mid-2021.
"We will consider the new building our ninth hospital. However, this endeavor is so much more than bricks and mortar – it will be the new 'hub' from which we will coordinate the entire continuum of services for comprehensive inpatient and outpatient mental health care, clinical training and innovative new approaches to accessing care," Fox added.
Within three years, inpatient mental health services across Beaumont Health will consolidate and grow into this one location, serving adult, pediatric and geriatric patients. The current outpatient and day programs across Beaumont's system will be enhanced to continue to meet the needs of patients who desire outpatient treatment closer to home.
Other features the new facility will include:
• the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams including psychiatrists, internal medicine physicians, other specialists, certified clinical pharmacists, social workers, psychologists, therapists and other clinical support staff;
• an integrated assessment and referral center to support the community and Beaumont Health Emergency Centers;
• substance use disorder treatment for those who are also receiving care for a mental health diagnosis.
Beaumont Hospital, Taylor, President and administrative lead of the mental health initiative, Lee Ann Odom, said, "We are proud to partner with a high-quality organization, with a national reputation, that will greatly enhance our efforts regionally to uphold our commitment to patient and family-centered care."
Over time, Beaumont plans to implement a comprehensive telemedicine program that will support its nine emergency rooms and other patient care settings across the system. This advanced technology will offer faster, remote access to health care providers and services.
"We are pleased to partner with Beaumont Health to serve the greater Detroit community," said Universal Health Services Regional Vice President Diane Henneman. "UHS brings national resources with a local focus, currently operating four facilities in Michigan, where we have proudly served the community for 35 years. Our long-standing commitment to quality care and expertise in the field of mental health will enable us, in partnership with Beaumont, to enhance the level of care provided to some of this region's most vulnerable patients."
Mental health care continues to be at the forefront of societal concerns among health care providers, government officials, legislators and community service organizations in Michigan and across the country.
Nearly one in five Americans, or 43.8 million adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition. Between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates in Michigan increased 32.9 percent, and suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the state, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There have been many conversations at the state level about the increasing necessity for mental health services, and the need outpaced our ability to meet that demand," Odom added.
The Michigan House of Representatives released a report earlier this year from the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force that provides recommendations on ways to improve mental health services across the state. The report focuses on a variety of different settings including health care, education and criminal justice. In addition, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association have also created a task force on behavioral health. Both Beaumont and UHS actively participate in these conversations at a state level.
"Mental health care of this caliber requires a team approach – all hands on deck," U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said. "With this project, Beaumont and UHS are taking a monumental next step to address the shortage of mental health care available in Southeast Michigan by increasing access to essential services that will benefit all of Michigan."
Fox added, "We listened to our community to learn how we can deliver more meaningful care. With this project, we intend to provide what's needed to benefit those who need our help."
Beaumont Health is Michigan's largest health care system and is most preferred for health care in the tri-county area. A not-for-profit organization, it was formed in 2014 by Beaumont Health System, Botsford Hospital and Oakwood Healthcare to provide patients with the benefit of greater access to extraordinary, compassionate care, no matter where they live in Southeast Michigan.
Beaumont Health has total net revenue of $4.5 billion and consists of eight hospitals with 3,429 beds, 187 outpatient sites, nearly 5,000 physicians, 38,000 employees and 3,500 volunteers. In 2017, Beaumont Health had 175,688 inpatient discharges, 17,789 births and 574,591 emergency visits. For more information, visit beaumont.org.
Veterans Day tribute at historic Elmwood
Cemetery to honor abolitionist
Active member of the Underground Railroad, recruiter of Michigan's Colored Infantry, entrepreneur and one of Detroit's most impassioned and important black leaders, George DeBaptiste will be honored Nov. 12 at a brief Veterans Day memorial service at his gravesite -- Section C, Lot 24 -- at 12:30 p.m. at historic Elmwood Cemetery.
Under the auspices of the Detroit Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH - Detroit), the service will include a wreath laying along with a presentation by 102nd USCT re-enactors.
Genealogist, photojournalist and African-American military specialist Dale Rich will speak about DeBaptiste's life.
Born free in Fredricksburg, Va., in 1815, DeBaptiste learned the barber's trade as a boy, and became a kind of valet to a wealthy southerner, with whom he traveled extensively.
After his move to Madison, Ind., DeBaptiste became acquainted with William Henry Harrison, who would become president of the United States. During Harrison's brief tenure. DeBaptiste, who was fond of Harrison, became a steward of the White House, attending to the president until the president's death.
DeBaptiste and his wife returned to Madison where he opened a barbershop and began his deep involvement with the abolitionist movement. The Ohio River, which Madison overlooks, was a destination for runaway slaves because it was a boundary between free Indiana and slave-holding Kentucky. Responsible for the freedom of hundreds of slaves, DeBaptiste would sometimes walk 20 miles a night, often in pouring rain, to fetch freedom seekers hidden in boats, and set them on a path to Detroit and ultimately, Windsor, Ont. Come morning, he'd be back behind the barber chair, in which would frequently sit slaveholders themselves.
In 1846, following a virulent spate of anti-black violence, DeBaptiste fled Madison for Detroit. The city had an already established black community, including several black-owned businesses. During this time, DeBaptiste was, by turns, a baker, caterer, clothier, restaurateur and real estate holder.
Again, he would make his mark on the abolitionist front. He bought the steamship the T. Whitney, hired a white man to pilot it, and risked his life secretely ferrying freedom seekers to Canada.
During this time, DeBaptiste served as a delegate to the Cleveland National Convention of Colored Citizens, as an agent for the Freedman's Aid Commission, and as a member of the Colored Vigilant Committee of Detroit.
In 1859, he was one of the chosen abolitionists to meet in Detroit with Frederick Douglass and John Brown to hear Brown's plans for armed rebellion at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
During the Civil War, DeBaptiste helped to organized the First Michigan Colored Infantry, also known as the 102nd United States Colored Troops. DeBaptiste traveled all over Michigan recruiting. Named a sutler, he followed the regiment to its campaign in South Carolina.
Following the war, DeBaptiste returned to his beloved Detroit. Having sold the steamboat, he dedicated most of his time to politics. On a local level, for example, he sought to put young black students on an equal footing with their white counterparts. On the national front, he worked for the passing of the 15th Amendment -- which prohibits the denial of citizens' right to vote -- and to the 13th Amendment, the abolition of slavery. By the time he died of stomach cancer in 1875, he'd seen both efforts come to fruition.
A longtime mason who was twice married and had two surviving children, DeBaptiste is memorialized on a historical plaque on East Larned and Beaubien streets on his homesite.
DeBaptiste was a leader of African-Americans in Detroit.
Elmwood Cemetery is located at 1200 Elmwood St. in Detroit, 48207, near Calvary Baptist Church.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH.org) was founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of black history. The organization is dedicated to the study and appreciation of African-American history.