A drug rehab center founder and CEO allegedly sold heroin and fentanyl to patients at the facility which was designed to heal addicts.
David Francis, 65, was charged with intention to distribute fentanyl on Friday after federal authorities raided his home and the rehab facility, The Next Step Foundation, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.
Authorities said a person who purchased drugs from Francis died in May after overdosing on fentanyl.
An investigation into Francis was then launched a few months later in July after numerous drug overdoses were reported in the small borough located near Pittsburgh.
The foundation that Francis operated is listed as providing recovery housing, education, support and services to alcoholics and addicts. But instead, authorities say Francis, who spent time behind bars in the early 2000s for felony cocaine possession, was instead breaking the law and acting as a drug dealer.
During the raid on his properties, authorities confiscated at least five ‘bricks’ of fentanyl, according to a federal criminal complaint filed on Friday, The Washington Post reported.
Francis (above), the founder and CEO of The Next Step Foundation, allegedly sold heroin and fentanyl to patients at the drug and rehab facility which was designed to heal addicts
One brick contains roughly five grams of opioids which is split into 50 small bags, the Post reported.
Empty drug bags and used needles were also found by federal agents during their search.
Numerous people were questioned by federal agents over the summer who knew or dealt with Francis.
Those sources told agents that Francis kept large quantities of heroin and fentanyl at his home on Chartiers Avenue, according to the criminal complaint.
During a July meeting, one source told authorities that Francis had been supplying ‘large quantities of fentanyl/heroin’ to addicts at his foundation and others in the neighborhood, according to the complaint.
Authorities also believe that his tax business, All Personal Matters, was in some way associated with his criminal drug operation.
Aaron Stubna, who owns the Parkway Theater across the street from Francis’ foundation, said he was shocked to learn what was going on.
Authorities said a person who purchased drugs from Francis died in May after overdosing on fentanyl. An investigation into Francis was then launched a few months later in July after numerous drug overdoses were reported in the small borough located near Pittsburgh (file)
‘Being that there is a halfway house across from my business, you would hope these people are there getting help and to hear they’re being fed more poison, that is disturbing to me,’ Stubna told KDKA.
In a 2006 interview for Comcast Newsmakers, Francis was recognized for ‘providing new hope for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions’ thanks to his foundation.
‘This is what helps keep me clean, is helping other people,’ Francis said of his work at Next Step Foundation.
Francis has a detention hearing next Wednesday at the federal courthouse.
Last year, the dangerous drug fentanyl killed more people in the state than any other drug as it was found in 52 per cent of overdose victims, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
It’s estimated that 2,395 deaths were linked to fentanyl, which is a 130 per cent increase from 2015.