inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Chester County Mother Shares Story of Her Daughter’s Fentanyl Death With Dr. Oz

As Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz was speaking during an event at the Desmond Hotel for Chester County Republicans recently, a Tredyffrin woman joined him on stage and spoke about her daughter’s death from fentanyl.

“We live two miles away,” said Leslie Holt. “A criminal came from Philadelphia. He brought meth-3 fentanyl, which is a drug they did not even test on animals. They know the outcome. This criminal drove into this beautiful neighborhood in his Jaguar (and) delivered this poison into our mailbox.”

Her daughter, Lana, 32, was self-medicating for pain from Lyme disease, she said.

“My husband found her the next morning,” she said. “And the criminal that brought this to our home is appealing his sentence. And John Fetterman will be the person who says, ‘Hey, this is fine. Give him another chance.’ He’s only had about 50, mind you, and he’s got a rap sheet two pages long. But he’s appealing.”

Leslie Holt with a picture of her late daughter, Lana

“I can’t even get my daughter’s phone back because it’s evidence,” Holt said. “She worked at the University of Pennsylvania with animals. She had so much promise. And someone poisoned her. And this is happening all throughout Chester County.  And no one is addressing it or talking about it. It’s coming here from Mexico and China.”

Oz said that the influx of fentanyl was caused by “weak, weak leadership at the federal level.”  He promised that he and congressional candidate Guy Ciarrocchi would take steps to stop it if elected.

“We will close the border with smart policies,” said Oz. “Allow legal immigration but we have to close the border.”

“We cannot afford to allow a purposeful misdirection of our nation,” said Oz. “I was in Philadelphia at a prayer vigil in Olney for a murder that happened, last year, 561 murders, the worst of any major city. Shocking.”

At the prayer vigil, someone told him it was easier to find Fentanyl than baby formula.

“I was stunned,” he said. “She was right.”

“How could the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, leave people with Fentanyl and no baby formula?”

Oz visited the Kensington area of Philadelphia to get a better idea of the devastation that drugs have brought. And while there, Oz took four addicts who expressed an interest in treatment to a nearby rehabilitation center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose deaths rose to nearly 108,000 in 2021, up 15 percent from 2020. But 2020 saw a nearly 30 percent spike in overdose deaths.

But for Holt, Lana’s death is not just a number.

“Unfortunately, it’s happening more and more frequently,” said Holt. Between her two children, “they’ve easily lost 15 to 20 friends from high school,” she said. “Not to single out Conestoga. These were kids who had been to my home, to sleep overs.”

Holt and her husband, Tim, believe Lana’s death was accidental on her part because she’d been taking what she thought was methadone for her Lyme-related pain. She had been suffering from the effects of Lyme disease for years and also the trauma of being raped by a family friend at the age of 14. Lana kept the rape a secret but that took a psychological toll.

“Trauma is the gateway drug,” said Holt.

After Lana’s death, Holt “shut down.” But then she decided she had to do something. Previously, Holt and a friend started s nonprofit RADAR to map sexual predators with a map and pin showing where they were assaulted. And Holt started another nonprofit as an off-shoot, A Child’s Light, to pay for therapy for children in Chester County who have been sexually or physically abused. She and Tim also take coats to Kensington to give to homeless addicts on Lana’s behalf. The coats bear tags that say “Love, Lana.”

Tim Holt found his daughter early in the morning of Nov. 2, 2018.  She could not be revived. But the Tredyffrin police used her cell phone to lure her dealer–the guy that delivered the fatal meth-3-fentanyl to their mailbox—to a make another delivery. This time it resulted in the arrest of Ricky Lowe, who drove up in his Jaguar. Lowe was convicted by a Chester County jury and sentenced to 17 to 33 years.

The trial was an ordeal for the Holt family. Lowe’s “crew” came to court and tried to start fights with her son. At one point she called the sheriff for help.

“My husband and son were shattered by Lana’s death,” she said.

So, when she learned about John Fetterman, as lieutenant governor chairing the Board of Pardons and working to pardon convicts, Holt got angry. Like most inmates, Lowe is appealing and the thought of the drug dealer who provided the poison that killed her daughter getting out early motivated her to speak out and to oppose Fetterman’s Senate candidacy.

And Oz has promised to work to stop fentanyl from coming across the border from Mexico. After Oz invited Holt onto the stage, they met privately after the event.

“I really felt as if he heard me,” she said. “I just felt as though he was not a stranger to this issue.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategists See ‘Stranger Things’ Scenario in Fight for U.S. Senate

In April, Republican control of the U.S. Senate looked like a lock. In August, all GOP hope appeared lost.

In the past few weeks, however, polls — and the news cycle — have been trending the Republicans’ way. Seven Senate seats are in play according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages: Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Other prognosticators predict fewer states will come down to the wire, as Republicans defend 21 Senate seats and Democrats defend 14 in November. But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell says pundits and the press are making the same mistake they have made every two years for a decade now.

Trusting the polls.

“The media’s reliance on GOP suppression polls is nothing new and 2022 is no different,” O’Connell told Inside Sources. “Generally speaking, Republican candidates are underperforming in the polls. That said, if Republicans at the top of the ticket continue to hammer home in unison the rising cost of living, crime, and the need to secure the border, the party will be victorious in November.”

A 2021 investigation by the American Association for Public Opinion Research found polls at both the national and statewide level in 2020 missed races by the biggest margins in decades, and always in the Democrats’ favor. If polling is off by the same margin as two years ago, Republicans are competitive, or better, in all seven of these races.

Events are working in the GOP’s favor, too, said Tim Jones, a former Republican speaker of Missouri’s House of Representatives, now a talk radio host who monitors the national scene. The economy is not likely to improve before the election and the Democrats seem overly reliant on the abortion issue after the Dobbs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Democrats have stopped talking about COVID. They are not talking about January 6 anymore. They are only talking about abortion,” Jones told Inside Politics shortly after his plane arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday. “Republicans could be undercounted or maybe just don’t want to be counted.”

Jones suspects the Dobbs decision might have come too early for Democrats.

“When the decision came in June, Democrats predicted the world would end and it would be Handmaiden’s Tale,” Jones said. “Now people are starting to figure out it just means that red states are probably going to have stricter abortion laws and blue states are going to have looser abortion laws.”

And then there is the ‘Stranger Things’ factor, said J. Miles Coleman of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Every election cycle has at least one “Who’da thunk it?” outcome. For 2020, it was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, surviving; in 2018, it was Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., being booted from office in a national Democrat year, Coleman said.

One potential Senate race surprise could be in Colorado, where Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett is fending off GOP challenger Joe O’Dea.

“Some Republicans think they’ve got a decent shot in Colorado,” Coleman told InsideSources. “We think Michael Bennett is likely to win, but not safe. The GOP nominee there has tried to frame himself as a Republican version of Joe Manchin. Michael Bennett is not as much of a brand in Colorado.”

The UVA Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball ranks Georgia and Nevada as the outright tossups in November. It scores North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio as leaning Republican while Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are leaning Democrat.

“Leaning” counts as less than “likely,” on the rating scale.

The Cook Political Report rates four Senate races as tossups: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Cook, meanwhile, counts Arizona, Colorado, and New Hampshire as leaning Democrat, while putting Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio in the leaning Republican category.

Of the major prognosticators, FiveThirtyEight takes the dimmest view of GOP chances, giving Democrats a two-thirds chance of maintaining control of the Senate based on its statistical modeling.

Among the most closely watched races in Pennsylvania, for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, which presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

“If the Republicans win in Pennsylvania, it is all but guaranteed that they will win control of the Senate,” O’Connell said. “There are a number of permutations and combinations that could give Republicans the gavel in the upper chamber without Pennsylvania, but a win in the Keystone State affords them the best opportunity for control.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee there, has closed the gap with Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. But Coleman believes the race is still Fetterman’s to lose.

“Oz’s unfavorables are terrible,” Coleman said. “Fetterman’s unfavorables have gone up, but Oz’s unfavorables are about 50 percent. That’s hard to overcome.”

Of the seven races, New Hampshire is widely viewed as the least likely to flip to the Republicans. Even GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s expected double-digit victory would not be enough to lift Republican challenger Don Bolduc over incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan, Coleman said.

“Sununu will likely win, but New Hampshire voters like to split their tickets,” Coleman said. “The Senate Leadership Fund is still spending money there. So, Republicans are not giving up.”

Jones is not so sure. As a former state legislative leader, he sees the popularity of Republican governors as a significant force in these elections. For example, a strong victory by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams could be enough to lift embattled Senate nominee Herschel Walker to victory over Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Gov. Kemp has been up by as much as 8 points. I can’t imagine a world where voters are voting for Kemp and Warnock,” Jones said.

As inflation continues to hit voters in their pocketbooks and President Joe Biden struggles in the polls, some Republicans see the potential of a red wave that could even reach the very blue states of Vermont and Washington, where GOP candidates are in striking distance in polls. But O’Connell is doubtful.

“Stranger things have happened, but for the GOP to pick up Senate seats in Vermont and Washington, the floodgates would really have to open up,” O’Connell said. “I’m not saying those races don’t merit our attention, but the most important races with less than 30 days to go are—Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

“In recent weeks the Democrats have backtracked on the map and poured more resources into both Senate and House races that they weren’t as focused on over the summer. That’s a good sign for Republicans.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal

STEVENS: We Need to Address Our Border Crisis

We are a nation of immigrants, and, in many ways, this is one of our greatest strengths. But today, we are struggling to understand how we should address the flood of immigrants coming into the country. This is not the first time we have wrestled with this issue; if we are honest with ourselves, we have always had trouble dealing with immigration.

It is absolutely essential that we figure things out this time. We like to think of ourselves as a nation of promise, a nation that stands for freedom and a good life. And many in the world see us this way. But today, our immigration policy is in shambles. And Democrats and Republicans have failed to offer us a path to success.

In the last year, more than 2 million people were arrested while trying to enter the U.S. illegally. In addition, more than 1 million people have been released by authorities, pending a hearing on their requests for asylum. And only 10 American cities have a population that large. When will these hearings take place? This is a serious issue. The system is overwhelmed, and in the meantime, people keep streaming in. Every country has a responsibility to control its borders, and it is clear that we are not doing that.

Except for a few fringe activists, Democrats do not favor open borders, but few of them have not made the border crisis a priority. They amuse themselves by condemning the Trump administration’s policies, but that is not a solution.

Republicans, on the other hand, falsely claim that Democrats actually want to bring undocumented immigrants into the country to increase the number of non-White, non-Christian, Democratic voters. This may appeal to the Republican base, but it isn’t a solution either. Democrats seem to be hoping the problem will just disappear, and Republicans like using the problem to stoke fear. Democrats champion mercy, and Republicans champion toughness. We are in a dark place.

The answer is not to ignore the problem, and the answer is not to condemn and vilify immigrants. Although this is a multi-faceted and complex issue, a new vision has to address three major issues:

—Secure the border. Democrats hated Trump’s push for a wall, and I don’t think a wall is a solution, but the border must be secured before anything else is done. If we grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants before the border is secured, it will only encourage others to enter illegally.

—Redefine the meaning of asylum. Most of those trying desperately to enter the United States are not looking for asylum in the traditional sense; they are not personally under the threat of persecution by their government. They want a better life, and America should be excited about welcoming people who want to join us, work hard and make a better life for themselves. But if they have to try to prove something untrue, that they are seeking political asylum, then they will be forced to lie or hide from officials.

We need a broader definition of asylum, one that recognizes those fleeing terrible poverty, vicious gangs and rampant unemployment — places where there is no hope of a decent life. If we make this change, it will incentivize people to enter the country legally and welcome the legal process that lies ahead of them. They will not feel the need to act outside of the law. They will not live for years in the shadows, afraid of being exposed and vulnerable to being exploited by unscrupulous employers.

—Work consistently over several years, perhaps decades, to support economic and political improvements in the countries from which people are most likely to flee in the first place, such as Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. It should be a priority for us to partner with the governments in these countries to help them become better places to live. If people in these countries have no reason to flee, the number of those coming to our border will decrease significantly.

We really need comprehensive immigration reform, but this will be impossible until we have a political leader who can articulate a clear, compelling vision of what it should be. The American people need to know that we control our borders and welcome the stranger seeking a better life. We need a vision of the future that combines toughness and mercy.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal

AADLAND: Southern Border Is a Crisis and Disaster Demanding Action

The southern border has become a humanitarian disaster affecting the nation. This situation requires an immediate and effective federal response.

While we can feel compassion for those seeking a better life, we must also recognize that unfettered access to this country is not compassionate as it has created conditions for massive human and illicit drug trafficking, leading to enormous suffering. Furthermore, it threatens our national security.

No other nation in the world allows such unrestricted immigration.

We must take the following steps to rectify this situation while implementing balanced, compassionate immigration reform.

—Finish the wall. A wall provides a measure of control that no amount of electronic surveillance can. We have only 19,000 border agents, and there is no way to control every mile of the border with agents alone. When appropriately resourced with personnel and technology, the wall is an effective deterrent.

—Reinstate the Stay-in-Mexico policy. The policy was better for America and those seeking to immigrate here legally. The United States decides who has access; at the same time, immigrants should be given a clear, understandable and swift process for immigration.

—Deport any undocumented immigrant convicted of a felony. Following punishment, send the offender back to his or her country of origin. The United States should not bear the burden of felons who are here illegally.

—Make fines for employers of undocumented immigrants higher and more enforceable. We should do what we can to disincentivize employers who illegally lure in workers.

—Establish sound and reasonable work visa regulations with clear reporting requirements.

—Eliminate social services paid for by taxpayers for undocumented immigrants. Staying in the country must require following the law. American citizens should not bear the burden of those here illegally.

—Assist Mexico, Central America and South America with creating thriving economies and harmonious societies built on the rule of law. Relations with such nations must de-incentivize illegal border crossings and include plans to cripple cartels enriching themselves from human suffering.

Though the vast majority of illegal immigrants are people who are merely seeking a better life, there are thousands of hardened criminals or bad actors who must be prevented from entering.

Lax border policies allow easy entry for individuals from countries worldwide, including terrorist elements. Increasingly belligerent nations such as Russia, China and Iran are exploiting open borders. Have we so soon forgotten the attacks of 9/11?

President Biden’s policies encourage drug cartels to build ungoverned empires along the southern border, championing evildoers who have no respect for human life or our nation’s sovereignty over the well-being of American citizens.

Seemingly beneath our noses, the federal government is conducting middle-of-the- night secret transportation of illegal immigrants from the border to every state without consent from state authorities. It is no longer surprising to see undocumented immigrants sneaking across backyards or ranches after crossing the border.

Furthermore, the U.S. is using taxpayer dollars to spend on health and welfare for undocumented immigrants when such support escapes our own citizens. Fentanyl, heroin and cocaine are streaming across the border unchecked. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for those between 18 and 45 years.

Large quantities of drugs have shown up in  Florida,  Texas,  California and  Massachusetts.  As recently as July, Colorado law enforcement seized “about 170,000” fentanyl pills in Aurora. In fact, according to the Colorado State Patrol, just days ago, the state has “already seized more fentanyl in 2022 than all previous years combined.”

A well-controlled southern border will benefit Mexico and other South American countries, discourage the cartels and reduce human suffering.

The administration’s dereliction of duty on the southern border situation is undermining the sovereignty of the United States, threatening our national security, contributing to skyrocketing crime, and creating an increased drain on our economy. This epic failure is hurting American citizens. We must rectify this dangerous situation immediately.

Congress must act now.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal