Today’s news:

Quaalude bust nets five Queens residents

A nationwide drug bust last week netted a total of 22 people, including two employees at Bellerose schools and five residents from northeast Queens, the Nassau County district attorney’s office said.

Federal drug enforcement agents raided laboratories in Brooklyn and California April 7, breaking up a national Quaalude distribution ring that turned out 100,000 pills per year and was worth millions of dollars, Nassau DA Kathleen Rice said.

Among the accused are Little Neck resident Kenneth Kutin, who is a substance abuse prevention counselor at Bellerose’s PS 266; Bayside’s Michael Silverman; Whitestone’s Mitchell Tepper; Oakland Gardens resident Ronald Vessia; Terri Goldring, a Long Island resident who worked as a paraprofessional at Bellerose’s PS 186; Barry Goldring, a former Queens teacher; and Fresh Meadows resident Frank Bisman, the DA said.

A city Department of Education spokeswoman said the two Queens teachers had been suspended without pay, but the agency had no further comment on the matter.

The drug ring’s suspected leader, Manhattan chemist Dennis Fairley, is accused of manufacturing hundreds of thousands of pills per year at two laboratories he owns in Brooklyn and Emeryville, Calif.

A Quaalude, also known as methaqualone, is a sedative-hypnotic drug that was prevalent in the 1960s and ’70s. The drug’s use can cause euphoria, drowsiness, a reduced heart rate and increased sexual arousal.

The pills were distributed through a network of dealers, who sold them at rates as high as $35 per pill, the DA said.

“Today’s coast-to-coast takedown ends Fairley’s toxic experiment and nips in the bud any apparent re-emergence of Quaaludes in our communities,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District.

Fairley’s wife, Ana Sanchez, and brother, Thomas Fairley, have also been charged in the Quaalude ring bust.

Bank accounts containing more than $1 million in drug sale proceeds were seized during the investigation, which was conducted by the Nassau County DA’s office and police department as well as the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s financial investigation team. A total of 13 search warrants were executed at locales in New York and California.

In addition, law enforcement officers allegedly recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, approximately two kilos of finished powder, unfilled pill capsules, a pill press machine and firearms from Fairley’s residence, Rice said. Five cars were seized during the raid on the California laboratory.

The investigation began in November 2007 when Nassau police officers arrested a man for petit larceny. The man later told police he had information on a loan shark who sold drugs, including Quaaludes.

If convicted, defendants in the bust could face up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiring to distribute the drug, the DA said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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