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Clarendon Gym Owner Charged with Buying $50,000 in Cocaine from Undercover Agents

The owner of the Clarendon Fitness gym is now facing federal drug charges, after he allegedly tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from undercover police officers.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents have charged Pascal Shaun Laporte with possession with intent to distribute, claiming that he was willing to buy two kilograms of cocaine from officers posing as Mexican gang members late last month. In an affidavit filed in federal court, the agents allege that Laporte unwittingly spoke with a police informant for close to a year as he looked to find a supplier to sell him hundreds of kilograms of cocaine each month.

Laporte opened Clarendon Fitness, a gym located at 2907 Wilson Blvd, back in 2010 and bills himself as a fitness enthusiast and investor on the business’s website. Neither Laporte nor his attorney responded to requests for comment on the drug charges.

The DEA claims that an informant first told agents about Laporte’s interest in finding a “cocaine supplier” in September 2017. Officials allege that Laporte paid the informant $1,600 to buy an ounce of cocaine two months later, striking a deal in the parking lot of the Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street).

By August, the informant arranged a meeting between Laporte and two Fairfax County police officers posing as members of “a Mexican drug trafficking organization” at the Tysons Corner mall. Laporte told them he was already “involved with another group of men who were getting him cocaine,” but that he was interested in buying much more, according to the affidavit.

Later that month, Laporte told the informant that he was coordinating with associates in both South Carolina and Florida, and hoped to buy as much as 10 kilograms of cocaine moving forward, if an initial deal with the undercover detectives went well.

On Aug. 30, the agents claim that the informant was able to arrange the sale at a Tysons Corner hotel, at which point Laporte delivered them $45,000, pledging to give them another $5,000 the next day. At that point, officers arrested Laporte.

Court records show Laporte was released from jail on a $30,000 bond on Sept. 6.

These drug charges are not Laporte’s first run-in with law enforcement. Arlington court records show he pleaded guilty to felony assault and battery in 2007, though the charge was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor.

Police also charged him with attempted malicious wounding and the assault and battery of a family member in 2014, but declined to move forward with those charges — he subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct for preventing someone from dialing 911.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Hurricane Florence Update — The Tomb Sentinels at Arlington National Cemetery will remain on guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as they have for 81 years, regardless of what happens with Hurricane Florence. However, according to forecasters, “there is no need to cancel outdoor plans, events, or travel in the Washington region this weekend” due to the hurricane. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

DEA Lease Renewal Is Official — “The Drug Enforcement Administration will remain in its Pentagon City headquarters for at least 15 more years. The General Services Administration announced Wednesday it signed a 511,487 SF lease renewal for the DEA at 600-700 Army Navy Drive, two buildings owned by the California State Teachers Retirement System.” [Bisnow]

Neighbors Still Peeved Over Salt Dome Plan — “This is an emergency caused by rust. I know Neil Young says rust never sleeps but it doesn’t move that fast,” said Michael Hogan, president of the Old Dominion Citizens Association, regarding the “emergency” plan for a temporary salt storage facility next to the deteriorating salt dome near Marymount University. “This is just a terrible land-use decision.” [Washington Post]

Living in Arlington On a $80,000 Salary — Not much of interest happens in this millennial money diary, set in Arlington, but there is this discussion of tea vs. coffee: “I drink my third green tea. I’m trying to drink less coffee, so today I’m trying tea instead, but this is not cutting it. To all those people who say green tea gives them as much energy as coffee — I’m calling shenanigans.” [Refinery 29]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Fire at Retirement Home — A fire broke out in the laundry room of the Sunrise at Bluemont Park senior assisted living facility Sunday morning. The blaze was quickly extinguished, but not before filling part of the building with smoke. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Serious Crash on Arlington Blvd — Arlington County police investigated a crash involving critical injuries and a reported vehicle rollover last night on Route 50 at N. Pershing Drive. One person was transported to a local hospital. [Twitter]

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “A federal judge has ruled against an Alexandria building owner’s efforts to lure the Drug Enforcement Administration from Pentagon City… Judge Loren Smith’s judgment, issued Thursday, effectively clears the way for the General Services Administration to award a new lease for the DEA to CSHV Lincoln Place LLC, the agency’s current landlord at 600-700 Army Navy Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Dragonfly Population Booming — “Your eyes are not deceiving you – there really are more dragonflies (and their cousins, damselflies) in the local area this summer. And according to Arlington naturalists, that’s a good thing.” [InsideNova]

No, Arlington’s Recycling Program Is Not Ending — Apparently a rumor has been circulating that Arlington County was ending its recycling program. A local TV station fact checked that and found, unsurprisingly, that the rumor is not true. [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Arlington Police to Host Prescription Drug Take-Back Events

Police will provide an anonymous, safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs this weekend, no questions asked.

The Arlington County Police Department will hold prescription drug take back events on Saturday (April 28) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. They will collect prescription drugs at the following locations:

  • Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street)
  • Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
  • Gunston Community Center (2700 S. Lang Street)

Only pills and patches — not liquids, needles or sharps — will be accepted.

The Arlington County Department of Human Services will have staff members available at each location to provide information on substance abuse, and Virginia Hospital Center’s pharmacist outreach team will be on hand at the Langston-Brown Community Center to answer any questions regarding pills or medication.

The events are a part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Arlington County’s Sheriff’s Office. Officials hope the drug take back will result in fewer instances of pill abuse or theft.

For residents who can’t make it to a drop-off event, ACPD recommends throwing away pills by taking them out of the original container, adding water to melt the pills and then putting them in a bag with coffee grounds or cat litter before disposing in the garbage.

ACPD will host a town hall on the dangers of substance abuse from 7-9 p.m. on May 2 (Wednesday) at Kenmore Middle School.

In Arlington, the number of patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction increased by 245 percent from 2015-2017. In 2015, 100 patients sought treatment, but in 2017 that number rose to 345 patients.

Photo via Wikimedia/Sponge

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Belated Morning Notes

Fog in Fairlington (photo courtesy Risa Abraham)

ARLnow Suffers Server Issue — ARLnow.com’s web server was down this morning due to a technical problem. It came back up at almost exactly noon. We apologize for any inconvenience. For those seeking an explanation of what went wrong, we’ve compiled some of our tweets from this morning. [Storify]

Big Apartment Development Proposed in Pentagon City — Vornado, which recently put several planned projects in Crystal City on hold, has filed a preliminary site plan application for a huge new apartment tower in Pentagon City. The 22-story, 558-unit residential building would be part of the Metropolitan Park development, next to a currently under-construction, Whole Foods-anchored apartment building, also owned by Vornado. Expect objections from some residents in nearby single-family home neighborhoods, who are already fretting about Vornado’s proposed addition of 1,100 apartments at the RiverHouse complex. [Washington Business Journal]

Lane of Memorial Bridge Reopens, For Now — The eastbound curb lane of the Memorial Bridge has temporarily reopened. It will close again early next year for additional repairs to the aging bridge, a National Park Service spokeswoman said. [Twitter]

DEA Seeking New Headquarters — The Drug Enforcement Administration may be looking to move from its Pentagon City headquarters. The GSA is seeking a new lease for the DEA, which employs some 2,500 people in Pentagon City. Competition among building owners is expected to be fierce. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Affordable for Millennials? — Despite high rents, the website RealtyTrac has ranked Arlington among what it says are the more affordable locales for young adults. Among places that are considered millennial magnets, Arlington has one of the more affordable ratios of average millennial income to average apartment rent. [RealtyTrac]

Positive Review for West Side Story at Signature — Signature Theatre’s production of West Side Story has choreography that’s “near-perfection,” at least according to a review in the University of Maryland Diamondback student newspaper. The production at the acclaimed Shirlington theater has been extended through Jan. 31. [Diamondback Online]

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Morning Notes

Frost-covered leaf (Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk)

VDOT to Talk I-66 in Arlington — VDOT officials are expected to provide some specifics about their plan to upgrade I-66 inside the Beltway during a meeting with the Arlington Transportation Commission. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. VDOT is said to be considering converting a portion of I-66 into HOT lanes. The agency has yet to reveal whether it will push for additional lanes inside the Beltway as well. [InsideNova]

Arlington Prosecutor Takes Morrissey Case — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be the lead prosecutor in the latest criminal case against Del. Joe Morrissey, who is currently serving a work-release jail sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year-old. [Washington Post]

Cops: Don’t Drive Drunk After the Big Game — Arlington County Police are reminding residents not to drive drunk after the Super Bowl on Sunday. For those planning on downing a few brewskies, ACPD recommends designating a driver, calling a cab or taking public transit. “Don’t want to attend the Detention Center’s #SuperBowlXLIX viewing party? Plan ahead by designating a #SoberRide home,” the department said via Twitter. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Energy Journey Game This Weekend — Call it the Super Bowl of local government-sponsored, energy-themed, life-sized board games. This weekend, Arlington County is holding the latest installment of its “Energy Journey Game,” an interactive life-size board game that tests your “energy IQ.” It’s taking place at Wakefield High School starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Arlington County]

A Visit to Pentagon City’s DEA Museum — The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call has a gonzo journalism account of one reporter’s trip to the DEA Museum in Pentagon City. From the article’s prelude: “And suddenly, there was a terrible mall all around us and the sky was full of what looked like squat office buildings — all glass and concrete and blocking out the sunlight — and the sound of the Metro, which ran underneath the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon Centre and the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum at 700 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.” [Roll Call]

Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk

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