December 18, 2011
5 People Die From Steroids
His body was slumped over the desk, torn by two rounds from a .380 Beretta. The first shot slammed through the left side of his chest and exited his armpit. The other lodged in his brain. John Rossi, 56, had presided over the transformation of his small Brooklyn pharmacy into a multimillion dollar hub for the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.Next to his body was a plastic cup, a half-empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Black and a note asking his wife, Justine, for forgiveness, according to two investigators who responded to the scene. Now, days from a meeting with state drug investigators, he lay dead in an office above the store. Police and the medical examiner determined he took his own life. Rossi's suicide on Jan. 28, 2008, wasn't the first unusual death connected to Lowen's Compounding Pharmacy, and it wouldn't be the last. Five men died in a 19-month span, leaving an enfeebled investigation, a trove of unanswered questions and stark lessons about the physical and psychological dangers of the drugs Lowen's shipped to police officers, firefighters and thousands of other people across the country. In addition to Rossi, the dead included two patients, a police captain investigating steroid use among fellow officers, and Jersey City physician Joseph Colao, who became the pharmacy's most prolific partner in the illicit steroid trade before dying at age 45 from hardening of the arteries.