Teen party death leads to heroin bust

July 9, 2008 4:44:28 PM PDT
A mother who lost her daughter to a drug overdose is warning others about the increased use of heroin among teenagers.Last month, 18-year-old girl Natalie Ciappa used heroin before she mysteriously died at a party on Long Island. On Wednesday, her ex-boyfriend was arrested for dealing the same drug.

"It's not easy admitting that your child took heroin," Doreen Ciappa said. "It's not easy admitting it to yourself."

Doreen Ciappa bears a mother's anguish. Eyewitness News has learned that Natalie died from a heroin overdose, a new killer that seems to be easily finding its way into the hands of teenagers.

"She didn't look like a heroin addict," Doreen said. "She didn't act like a heroin addict."

Natalie's heroin overdose came while attending a party at a house in Seaford. And now, police say they have arrested Phillip Ordaya, Natalie's former boyfriend. He is charged with drug conspiracy in what investigators describe as a much larger heroin drug ring that has pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Heroin use by our children is on the rise," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

The alleged ring leaders were identified as Alexander and Edward Fontanet, from Queens, whose operation of dealers allegedly spread into Nassau County. Heroin was reportedly being sold at the Hempstead bus station and in many other communities. One of those dealers arrested was Patrick Graf.

"On a daily basis, [Graf] would get approximately 70 bundles of heroin from the Fontanet brothers in Queens and then distribute that heroin in one to two days," said Terri Corrigan, bureau chief, street narcotics and gangs.

The heroin, which is snorted or smoked, is readily available to a growing number of teenagers, authorities warn.

"It is the new drug of choice," Corrigan said. "It's the new 'in' drug, because nobody realizes how deadly it actually is."

But having struggled with their daughter's addiction and a previous overdose, the Ciappas strongly warn parents to be vigilant in a tearful plea.

"Even though their kids stood next to them looking beautiful and healthy," Doreen said. "that's what this new heroin does. It tricks the parents. It makes them think, not my kid."


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer