Pubdate: Sat, 23 Nov 2002
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Kevin Murphy


Madison - Six men - including three former University of Wisconsin-Madison 
students - were sentenced Friday in federal court for conspiring to bring 
116,000 doses of Ecstasy from Florida and Pennsylvania to Madison, where it 
was distributed on and around the UW campus.

Sentenced in the largest Ecstasy prosecution to date in U.S. District Court 
in western Wisconsin were: Paymon Farhadieh, 24, of New York, two years in 
prison; Ashkan Farhadieh, 22, of Madison, six years and five months; 
Ghassan Majdalani, 22, of Madison, three years and one month; Steven 
Larson, 26, of Los Angeles, five years and 10 months; Augusto Rodriguez, 
25, of Miami, four years and three months; and Matthew Louie, 23, of 
Madison, five years and three months.

Each co-defendant also was fined between $7,500 and $12,500 by District 
Judge Barbara Crabb.

Federal authorities say the six have been tied to an Ecstasy distribution 
ring with links to the Netherlands, Pennsylvania State University and the 
cities of New York, Miami and Los Angeles. The six conspired to deliver the 
Ecstasy pills from January 2000 to December 2001. Federal drug 
investigators said the group may have distributed up to 200,000 pills with 
a street value of nearly $5 million.

Defense attorneys said their clients did not know that the penalties for 
selling Ecstasy were so severe. Federal sentencing guidelines equated the 
amounts of Ecstasy in the conspiracy to nearly 3 tons of marijuana.

Ecstasy is a synthetic psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and 
hallucinogenic properties. It is typically sold for $20 to $25 per dose and 
has been distributed at nightclubs, rock concerts and "raves," all-night 
dance parties. Ecstasy suppresses the urges to eat and drink, and sleep, 
but Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim O'Shea said that jail time wasn't the 
drug's only negative long-term effect.

"This is a message case, and the message is this isn't the innocuous 'hug 
drug' but something far more harmful," O'Shea said.
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