As reported by, Attorney General Paula Dow, flanked by county prosecutors and state officials, formally unveiled a group of reforms designed to eliminate the abuse of anabolic steroids in New Jersey’s law enforcement ranks.

The measures, recommended by a panel Dow formed in December, pave the way for police departments to randomly test officers for steroids, increase safeguards in taxpayer-funded prescription drug plans, and heighten scrutiny of physicans who improperly prescribe steroids and human growth hormone. The reforms follow a series of Star-ledger reports about the use of steroids in law enforcement. The newspaper found at least 248 officers and firefighters obtained the substances from an unscrupulous Jersey City physician, Joseph Colao. In most cases, they used their government benefits to pay for drugs that ran as much as $1,100 a month. Taxpayers picked up the bill, which amounted to millions of dollars. 

“The investigative series done by The Newark Star-Ledger highlighted the damage that can be done when a doctor’s actions go unchecked and individuals become aware of the opportunity to obtain medications they may not be entitled to,” Dow said at a press conference in Hamilton. “The cost is borne not just by taxpayers, but in the erosion of faith people have in those who protect and serve. This is unacceptable.”

Among the initiatives, state guidelines on drug-testing will be rewritten to explicitly authorize departments to randomly test their officers for steroids. The guidelines will also allow chiefs or prosecutors to test officers if they have a “reasonable suspicion” of steroid use or as a condition of fitness-for-duty evaluations.

Other measures include:

·         Any officer who tests positive will be required to provide a note from a physician confirming that the use of steroids or human growth hormone is for a legitimate medical condition and that the officer is fit for duty.

·         Departments are encouraged to require officers to self-report prescriptions for anabolic steroids and human growth hormone based on the authority to determine fitness for duty.

.     Dow will recommend prescriptions for steroids or growth hormone be filled largely by mail order through Medco, the state’s pharmacy benefits manager. The provision is meant to help Medco spot potential abuses.


·         A “working group” of prosecutors, investigators and attorneys who regularly handle prescription fraud cases will meet quarterly to share information and ensure the changes are being implemented. The group will also aggressively investigate tips from the public, informants, and criminal defendants seeking plea deals.

·         The state Board of Medical Examiners, which oversees doctors in New Jersey, will convene a committee of experts to review current regulations regarding steroids and growth hormone and to recommend changes meant to curtail prescriptions for anti-aging purposes.

.    Growth hormone will be added to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which is now in development. When complete, the program will track all prescriptions of controlled dangerous substances.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.