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Exclusive! Exonerated ex-Citizens Union head talks to us about his arrest and ongoing health issues

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A judge let the longtime head of good-government group Citizens Union walk away a free man on Dec. 8, after he surrendered to police in October for having small amounts of drugs inside his Brooklyn Heights apartment.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez urged the court to show mercy to Dick Dadey — who stepped away from his role leading the more-than-century-old civic group in September before being ousted from the job the day he was arrested — and the top prosecutor dismissed Dadey’s low-level charges because he voluntarily completed a treatment program and has an otherwise clean record, according to his lawyer David Cohen.

But Dadey revealed his battles are not entirely behind him — he continues to fight HIV and Hepatitis C, two potentially debilitating diseases doctors diagnosed him with more than a decade ago, he said. The one-time watchdog-group leader admitted he sometimes used the small amounts of methamphetamine cops found in his apartment to treat the symptoms of his illnesses, which he said do not justify his behavior.

“I was occasionally using a drug in part to self-medicate to deal with the chronic fatigue that I was experiencing as a result of not being fully treated for Hep. C and HIV,” he said during a phone interview late last week. “None of this is meant to be an excuse for my abuse and personal failing — it’s simply a related circumstan­ce.”

Dadey said he lost access to the long-time treatment he received to fight the twin infections about two years ago, when his insurance company decided he was healthy enough to no longer need it. But he soon became excruciatingly exhausted, he said, and turned to methamphetamine — an energy-boosting, addictive stimulant that is known to push users beyond their physical and mental limits.

“Crystal meth can give its users needed energy, though at great harm,” he said.

Police found the drug along with small amounts of ecstasy after they showed up at Dadey’s Remsen Street apartment with a search warrant for an unfounded allegation sometime in mid-September. And when Dadey turned himself in for possession at the 84th Precinct on Oct. 24, authorities handed him a ticket to show up in court in December.

Cops searching his home prompted Dadey to realize that he needed to work on his health, so he took a temporary leave from his post at Citizens Union, he said.

“I took a medical leave from Citizens Union to go into rehab,” said the longtime civic leader and LGBT activist who led the now-defunct statewide gay-rights group, Empire State Pride Agenda, before taking over the good-government organization. “I voluntarily checked myself in because I needed to get well.”

Dadey said his HIV infection is now under control through the proper treatment, though he’s still fighting for permission to get the prescribed medication he needs for Hep. C — and he’s grateful that his second chance awarded him time to work on his well-being.

“I was fortunate the one minor drug-possession charge that came from the police investigation was dismissed immediately and in its entirety,” he said. “The district attorney’s compassion gave me a clean slate for a much appreciated fresh start.”

And he is not trying to hide from his transgressions, nor excuse his occasional drug abuse because of his diseases — but his main goal now is to move forward, he said.

“I accept full responsibility for the mistake I made and apologize without condition to those who placed their trust in me and who I failed,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter on Dec. 8. “I cannot erase my past; I can only write my future.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:51 pm, July 9, 2018
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