Feds charge Lake Worth man in overdose death

Federal authorities on Friday charged a Lake Worth man for selling a powerful painkiller that led to another man’s overdose death, the first case of its kind in Palm Beach County despite hundreds of recent overdose deaths.

Christopher Massena (Florida Department of Corrections)
Christopher Massena (Florida Department of Corrections)

Christopher Sharod Massena, 24, was indicted for distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, a charge that carries a 20-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. He was also charged with multiple counts of distributing heroin and heroin laced with fentanyl.

At roughly 100 times more powerful than morphine, fentanyl, a synthetic drug, can be deadly even in small doses, and it’s become common for drug dealers to combine it with heroin.

The effects have been lethal: roughly 200 people died in opioid-related overdoses in Palm Beach County last year, according to Palm Beach Post data. Many of those also had fentanyl in their system.

But while some local police have made a point of arresting dealers for selling heroin, Massena’s is the first case of a dealer being held responsible for an overdose death.

A Friday Justice Department press release hinted that the charge could be a new strategy to stem the growing number of overdose deaths. The FBI is already close to wrapping up a 2-year investigation of some drug treatment centers.

“The DEA is working very closely with our law enforcement partners in Palm Beach County and the United States Attorney’s Office to fully investigate and prosecute illicit drug trafficking activities to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for the consequences of their actions, especially when the sales result in the tragic death of another individual,” DEA Special Agent in Charge A.D. Wright said in a press release.

The press release said that on Feb. 18, Massena distributed fentanyl to a 23-year-old man who died after taking the drug. The man was not identified.

Afterward, Massena sold heroin and heroin laced with fentanyl to an undercover officer four times, according to the release. On April 21, Massena possessed heroin with the intent to distribute it, the release said. Those charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Local court records show Massena has been arrested several times on violence- and drug-related charges, with stints in Florida prisons from 2011-2012 and 2014-2015.

A message sent to Massena’s lawyer was not returned.

What’s a “save shot” and why did Prince reportedly get it?

Maybe you believe TMZ’s tabloid reports that Prince overdosed on opioids -twice – and had to be given a “save shot” – twice- or maybe you don’t.

Or maybe you want to know what a save shot is.

Short answer: It’s Naloxone, also known by one brand name, Narcan. Naloxone is an antidote to an opioid overdose. That can be from opioids such as Percocet, which Prince’s sister said the singer used, or from heroin.

It can be agonizing. But it’s a re-entry to life, and everyone from the Surgeon General to the President of the United States is urging broader access to the drug.

Delray Beach, Sarasota, Stuart: They needed no convincing. Police officers in all three cities are carrying Narcan.  And with good reason. Less than a day after Delray police started carrying it, they had to use it, saving the life of a 20-year-old who relapsed and overdosed on heroin.

Narcan kit used by Delray Beach police.
Narcan kit used by Delray Beach police.

In dozens of other states, you can buy Narcan over the counter, no prescription needed. In one northeast city, a doctor wrote an “open prescription” so that anyone could go into any drugstore and buy the life-saving drug.

But not in Florida, home to unprecedented numbers of heroin overdoses.

Those overdoses reflect the large  numbers of people coming to Palm Beach County to recover from heroin- and the numbers of unscrupulous businesses exploiting them. That includes dumping them into cheap hotels after they relapse- with deadly consequences.

Read more about addiction in our series Addiction Treatment: Inside the Gold Rush.

Now pitching for the Atlanta Braves: Collier County

Update: Collier County commissioners did not embrace the proposal this morning and asked the Braves to meet with county staff about other potential locations in the county.

Five residents spoke to commissioners, all against the proposal.


Original post:

Collier County commissioners will hear a proposal this morning to build a spring training complex for the Atlanta Braves east of Naples on Florida’s southwest coast.

The proposal, being pitched by a private development group, would compete against interest by some Palm Beach County officials to build the Braves a facility in John Prince Park west of Lake Worth.

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker, who met with Braves officials on Friday, said she was still waiting for a formal proposal from the team.

The Naples Daily News said Collier County could spend up to $135 million in tourist tax money to build, finance and maintain the project over 30 years.

The Collier County Commission is scheduled to discuss the Braves at 10 a.m. this morning. The meeting can be seen live on the county’s website.

“We believe that relocating our spring training operations to a new facility in Naples and Collier County would be mutually beneficial to our organization and the citizens of Naples and Collier County,” Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz wrote Jan. 4 in a letter that was included in the private group’s proposal.

Schuerholz has a home in Naples.


New web site goes online for the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches has launched a new web page.

Screen shot of the landing page for the new web site for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Screen shot of the landing page for the new web site for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Like the actual ballpark south of 45th Street in West Palm Beach, the web page is still being developed.

But the initial landing page, which went online Friday, offers a few general details for now, including links to the official web pages of the teams that will share the 160-acre complex, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

Brady Ballard, the general manager of the ballpark, said the future website will include lots of images, links and information along with “key details of the ballpark experience, ticket information, team schedules and a calendar of non-spring training events.”

“More details to come as we build the site.”

The ballpark itself is supposed to open by January 2017.



From one old landfill to another, sabal palm trees uprooted by baseball project find new home

From one old landfill to another, more than 50 sabal palm trees are finding a new home after being uprooted by the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Crews remove a sabal palm from the baseball construction site. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)
Crews remove a sabal palm from the baseball construction site. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)

As part of the construction process at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, work crews are relocating 53 sabal palms to Dyer Park, a former landfill owned by Palm Beach County.

The healthy trees had stood at an old West Palm Beach landfill south of 45th Street. But they’re being moved to make room for a 160-acre spring training complex. They’re being moved this week via trucks.

Workers started removing the trees Friday. They’ll finish moving them by the end of this week, according to McNicholas & Associates, the public relation firm for the spring training complex.

Sabal palm is replanted at Dyer Park. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)
Sabal palm is replanted at Dyer Park. (Photo by McNicholas & Associates)

The trees are being moved from the current site in order to make sure they are not damaged during construction.

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will have thousands of new palm trees, hardwood and shade trees when it opens in January.

“The layout of the stadium and the surrounding fields will include an inviting natural environment for fans attending Astros and Nationals games along with non-Spring Training activities,” the firm said in a press release.

If you would like more information on the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches or to be placed on a future ticket-interest contact list, send an email to info@ballparkpalmbeaches.com.



Atlanta Braves double-header: Supporters and opponents to face off at two public meetings today

BRAVES FANSSupporters of a proposal to bring the Atlanta Braves to John Prince Park are planning to attend two public meetings today where opponents plan to ask government leaders to reject the idea.

Residents around Lake Osborne plan to speak to the Palm Beach County Commission today about their concerns.

A flyer that started circulating Monday urged supports to attend the same meeting as well as a Lake Worth City Commission meeting tonight to voice their support.

The Braves plan is not on the regular County Commission agenda today. But it will be brought up by residents during Matters by the Public, which starts at 2 p.m.

The Lake Worth City Commission will consider a resolution supporting the project.



A few bumps in the road for mobile billboard protesting Atlanta Braves complex in John Prince Park

Protesting with a 12-ft.-plus-high billboard in John Prince Park has its challenges.

Opponents of an idea to build a spring training complex for the Atlanta Braves in the public park west of Lake Worth hired a company to pull the billboard with a truck.

Driver Shamir Pinchinat takes a break at a stop sign near John Prince Park
Driver Shamir Pinchinat takes a break at a stop sign near John Prince Park

The billboard – it urges residents to attend a County Commission meeting on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the baseball proposal – was supposed to make its rounds around the park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Friday through Monday, starting Friday.

But the billboard arrived six hours late from Miami because the truck that was pulling it broke down Friday on Interstate 95.

Once it arrived at the park, around 5 p.m. Friday, the truck had to change one of the routes. Turns out the billboard was too high to fit under the Six Avenue South bridge that passes above Lake Osborne Drive – an 11-ft. clearance.

Then on Saturday, park rangers chased the truck off of the roads within the park, citing policy and safety issues.

Billboard makes its way north on Lake Osborne Drive on Saturday.
Billboard makes its way north on Lake Osborne Drive on Saturday.

The truck driver, Shamir Pinchinat, took it all in stride. He and his co-driver, Thierry Bruno, were polite and cordial with rangers. They improvised and drove on roads around the park.

“We’ve gotten a lot of thumbs-up from people and cars honking in support,’’ Pinchinat said, talking to a reporter while the truck idled at a stop sign on Snowden Drive, just east of the park.

The truck will make some rounds in downtown West Palm Beach on Tuesday morning, just before the County Commission meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m.

The baseball proposal is not on the commission’s agenda. And County Administrator Verdenia Baker said she does not plan to bring it up during her comments.

But several Lake Osborne residents plan to voice their concerns at 2 p.m., during the Matters by the Public section of the meeting. They live close to the park and they fear it will be destroyed if the Braves build a complex there.

The county had planned to start $2 million in improvements at the park, including a new dog park and gazebos. A ground-breaking ceremony was scheduled for Wednesday.

But the ceremony was canceled and the improvements postponed until the commission decides on whether to pursue luring the Braves to the park.

A majority of commissioners have told The Post that they support exploring the idea. But when commissioner Shelley Vana brought it up last week at a workshop, the commissioners said they wanted to wait until the Braves submit a formal proposal.

Baker said in a text message Saturday that she has not received a proposal yet.