A man and woman who face jail time for conducting a needle exchange in an airport neighborhood park are now cleaning up dirty syringes there.
On Sunday, Brian Robinson and Kristy Tribuzio joined a handful of other volunteers who collected 65 dirty needles and two broken crack pipes in Mono Park and the surrounding area.
But Robinson, 37, and Tribuzio, 36, said a prosecutor now wants to keep them out of the park altogether.
At the pair's Monday court hearing, a plea deal offered to Robinson and Tribuzio included a "stay away" order from Mono Park.
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They rejected the deal and face trial March 23. Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said she could not comment on the ongoing case.
"These needles are littered everywhere," Robinson said of his recent pickup effort. "It's just another grass-roots attempt to reduce harm in the community."
The two were arrested after an April sting operation on suspicion of handing out clean needles to drug addicts who shoot up heroin and methamphetamine in and near the park.
Last September, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors nixed a proposal to allow a needle exchange despite recommendations in favor of it from a civil grand jury and county health professionals. Opponents said a needle exchange program in Modesto would enable drug users to continue their addiction.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.