On March 8, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut hosted its annual United States Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony at the City of New Haven’s aldermanic chambers. The ceremony recognized more than 170 individuals for their investigative efforts in more than two dozen significant federal criminal prosecutions and civil cases in Connecticut over the past year, including Officer Michael Paleski of the Branford Police Department.
Palenski was a part of Operation Big Blue, which is described as follows in the Award Book:
In 2010, the DEA began an investigation of , who was suspected of distributing large quantities of oxycodone pills in and around New Haven. In the months that followed, the DEA, utilizing various investigative techniques, confirmed Marchitto’s role as the head of a large- scale oxycodone distribution ring that stretched from Connecticut to Florida.
In February of 2011, the DEA installed a court-authorized wiretap on a cellular telephone utilized by Marchitto. This was the first time that a wire- tap had been used in the District of Connecticut to investigate the distribution of diverted pharmaceuticals.
During the ensuing two months, hundreds of pertinent telephone con- versations and text messages were intercepted. The intercepted communica- tions revealed that Marchitto traveled to Florida on a monthly basis and visited multiple pain clinics there, often referred to as “pill mills,” to obtain bulk sup- plies of oxycodone. Marchitto paid several individuals to travel with him to Florida and obtain supplies of oxycodone for him at unscrupulous pain clinics.
The DEA surveilled Marchitto and several of these individuals while they were in Florida. Explicit wiretap intercepts, coupled with surveillance in Florida, confirmed that Marchitto’s purpose for traveling to Florida was to fraudulently obtain, and fill, multiple prescriptions for oxycodone, which the organization then re-distributed in Connecticut.
In April 2011, 16 individuals, including three Floridians, were charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. All have been convicted.
A full list of award-winners and awards presented is in the attached PDF.
“The cases and individuals recognized are but a sampling of the wide variety of excellent work that has been done by law enforcement in Connecticut,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein in a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. “I congratulate our award recipients, each of whom has served the District and our Nation with distinction and integrity. Their dedication to the cause of justice makes Connecticut a better and safer place to live.”