Man Admits He Tried

January 10, 2005
Page: A11

Man admits he tried to use a prosthesis to defraud drug test

Man, 28, faces four-year prison term after officer discovered his charade

By Peggy Wright
Daily Record

A man who had the chance to stay out of prison by participating in Morris County's Drug Court admitted to a judge on Monday that he tried to defraud a drug test in November 2003 by using a prosthetic device.

John Gatanas, 28, now faces a four-year prison term, with two years of parole ineligibility, for his guilty pleas in state Superior Court, Morristown, to defrauding the administration of a drug test that his probation officer was conducting, and for escaping from police when his charade was discovered.

Gatanas had been accepted into Morris County's Drug Court in August 2002, which was his chance to avoid a three-year prison term for narcotics offenses by staying clean and sober under the court's stringent probationary and rehabilitation requirements. Under questioning by defense lawyer James Porfido, Gatanas told Superior Court Judge John J. Harper that he tried to cheat the test on Nov. 20, 2003, and then tried to escape when he was told to remain in a courtroom until he could be brought to the Morris County jail. He was to be sent to jail at that time as a sanction for trying to circumvent a drug-detecting urine test.

Authorities have said that Gatanas went to the bathroom on Nov. 20 in the presence of a county probation officer, but the officer got suspicious. The officer discovered that Gatanas was wearing a prosthetic penis -- known as a Whizzinator --that was filled with clean urine. He failed a second urine test when he took the device off.

'Easy to conceal'

The Whizzinator, according to the distributor's Web site, is "an easy-to-conceal, easy-to-use urinating device with a very realistic prosthetic device."

Gatanas has been held in the Morris County jail since his arrest almost 14 months ago. He has lived in Parsippany and Dover, and he has a petty criminal history that includes shoplifting from supermarkets and vehicle break-ins.

Peggy Wright can be reached at (973) 683-1140 or .