Family of San Diego State University Student Whose Drug Death Led to Raid Praise Arrests

The family of the San Diego State University freshman whose cocaine-related death touched off a massive undercover drug sting on campus praised the school and detectives for their investigation that led to the arrests of 96 students and gang members.

San Diego State 2006 graduate Nate Poliakoff, whose 19-year-old sister, Jenny, died a year ago from a lethal combination of cocaine and alcohol, is happy there is a silver lining to the tragedy.

"The biggest thing is that I’m glad something came of it," the 25-year-old soon-to-be law student said in an interview with "After her death, we didn’t know there was an investigation going on, but I'm glad the administration stepped up to the plate and said, 'we’re not going to tolerate this.'"

His parents, Ray and Kim Poliakoff, applauded the university's taking a closer look at drug-dealing on campus.

"We're happy about the fact that they chased after it," Ray Poliakoff, an emergency room doctor from Poway, Calif., told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "They could've chosen to turn away from it, to turn a blind eye to the whole thing. ... If one kid gets saved, if 10 kids get saved, then it's worth doing."

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that Jenny Poliakoff's death was the catalyst for the investigation, but neither she nor the person who sold her cocaine were involved with or even aware of the network of dealers and traffickers nabbed Tuesday.

"The person that provided her with the drugs has already been convicted, separate of this," San Diego County D.A. spokesman Paul Levikow told "This wasn't to go get the suppliers that sold her the drugs. I don't have any reason to believe that she was anything other than a recreational drug user."

San Diego State University suspended six fraternities Wednesday after the large-scale raid, which put members of three houses behind bars on suspicion of openly dealing drugs to students.

Levikow said it wasn't one large drug ring, because not all of the sellers knew each other, but it was a "network of sorts."

Seventy-five of the 96 arrested are students at the university, according to the district attorney and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

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"After she had her overdose, San Diego State University began to examine the potential drug problem on campus and realized that they did have a problem, so they contacted the D.A. to assist," DEA Special Agent Eileen Zeidler told

Jenny, whose full name is Shirley Jennifer Poliakoff, was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. Her brother, Nate, who organized a benefit in her name last weekend called Jenny's Walk, said he didn't think she was an avid drug user.

"She was in a sorority going out partying," he said. "She wasn't some crazy drug girl or anything of that sort."

He said drugs were ubiquitous when he was on campus; he thinks the school and authorities need to continue the crackdown if they want it to work in the long run.

"When I was a freshman, I didn’t see it or notice it, but once I realized it was there I’d see it everywhere," he said. "In order to see if this is a success or not, they're going to have to follow up with more raids, more arrests."

Jenny's mother, Kim Poliakoff, believes authorities should go after the bigger suppliers and traffickers who are getting the narcotics into the hands of student dealers and users.

"They're students and shouldn't be doing that," she told the Union-Tribune. "They're all getting themselves in a lot of trouble, and I think it comes from higher up."

Ray Poliakoff told the newspaper his daughter "never was really involved with drugs" and though she had cocaine and alcohol in her system, he isn't convinced she actually overdosed.

"Taking a drug one time can result in a death," he said. "And it doesn't have to be much."

The raids were conducted at nine locations including at the Theta Chi fraternity, one of those suspended pending a hearing on evidence collected during the probe, called "Operation Sudden Fall."

Cocaine, Ecstasy and three guns were discovered at the Theta Chi house.

While the investigation was under way, a student named Kurt Baker, 22, from nearby Mesa College, was found dead of a cocaine overdose in February in the Sigma Pi fraternity house at San Diego State.

Click here to read more on this story from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Click here for a link to Jenny's Walk.