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It isn’t a stretch to say that there’s a decent likelihood that the two men at the center of a drug ring in New York responded to assist overdose victims who used illegal drugs the me are accused of distributing. Paul G. Smith is a career lieutenant with the Middletown Fire Department and Robert Dunham Jr. is a volunteer with Mechanicstown Fire Company. Both departments are located in Orange County. Law enforcement officials claim Smith and Dunham got drugs and then distributed them through two self-described outlaw motorcycle clubs in the county, the Burnt Pistons and Chingalings.
In addition, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said Smith used the Middletown Central Fire Station to hold meetings and make sales. Investigators have no indication other Middletown firefighters were involved, but Mechanicstown Fire Chief Dominic Guardino was also arrested. Guardino was characterized by law enforcement as a street level distributor who obtained pills while in his fire department vehicle.
As you will read below, there also were former police officers arrested today.
Prosecutors said one ring sold counterfeit oxycodone pills that were actually made from fentanyl. The other sold cocaine.
“Many of the people buying these pills thought they were buying OxyContin,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said, adding that this is the first fentanyl-trafficking ring of this scale in Orange County.
Police identified the Burnt Pistons president as John Beltempo, 49, of New Windsor, a former police officer with Spring Valley, Town of Wallkill and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said the Chingaling president, George Thomas, 61, of Bloomingburg, is also a former police officer. In court, his lawyer said he’s retired.
“We do have some concerns about the protocols that are in place in the department; as you know we have a combination department both paid and volunteer and there is during certain hours almost unlimited access into the buildings,” (Mayor Joseph) DeStefano said. “We are going to have to look at that, how we are going to control that because one of the issues here here was that there were actual meetings being held of this gang, motorcycle group, on city property in our firehouse.”
Common Councilman Joseph Masi met with firefighters after the news broke and he had some advice for them.
“I said the best you can do is stay off of social media,” Masi said. “You idiots out there that think that this is a time to vilify all of Middletown, the hard work that our men and women do, you know what, grow up.”
POLICE PRESS CONFERENCE: Officials say 29 people were charged in a drug ring in the Middletown New York based in the city's Central Firehouse
Posted by recordonline.com on Tuesday, February 5, 2019