Vice President Mike Pence was all set to deliver a speech at an event on opioid addiction at a recovery center in New Hampshire on July 3 when his departure from Washington, D.C. was scuttled at the last moment for mysterious reasons that were not disclosed at the time.
It has now been revealed that, had Pence gone through with his scheduled visit to the addiction rehabilitation facility in Manchester, the vice president would likely have come face to face with a man under federal investigation for being an interstate drug dealer.
Politico reported that an employee of Granite Recovery Centers, former New York Giants football player Jeff Hatch, was scheduled to be among those personally greeting Pence at the July event. Hatch often spoke publicly about how drug addiction had ruined his personal life and his career in professional sports.
However, Hatch was in fact under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration at the time of Pence’s planned visit for allegedly transporting more than $100,000 worth of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire for distribution.
Hatch was caught back in 2017 with an estimated 1,500 grams of the dangerous drug — a typical baggie of the drug sold on the street weighs about one-tenth of a gram — as part of a statewide investigation into the supply and distribution of drugs moving into the state.
After having cooperated in the federal investigation to help catch dealers and traffickers higher up the distribution chain, Hatch pleaded guilty on Friday to one lesser count of using a telephone to commit a crime and could face up to four years in federal prison plus a $250,000 fine.
Gaining some distance
Following the announcement of the guilty plea, Granite Recovery Centers in Manchester ended Hatch’s employment and disavowed the man who served as the treatment facility’s chief business development officer.
Granite Recovery Centers’ CEO Eric Spofford said in a statement, “I am shocked and disappointed to learn today that Jeff Hatch has pled guilty to a drug offense. Granite Recovery Centers terminated Jeff’s employment today immediately upon learning about this matter.”
U.S. Attorney Scott Murray, who led the case against Hatch in New Hampshire, did not return a phone call from Politico seeking comment on the plea deal. Likewise, the vice president’s office also declined to issue a statement on the matter. However, it was noted previously that Pence would reschedule his visit to the treatment center at a later date.
Addressing the crisis
President Donald Trump has made the fight against opioid addiction a central theme of his administration, and it was likely determined that the optics of the vice president meeting with a man under investigation for interstate drug dealing would have proven detrimental to the administration’s efforts and messaging.
At the time of the abrupt cancellation, Trump cryptically told reporters, “You’ll know in about two weeks” what caused Pence to miss the planned event. Lo and behold, just shy of three weeks later, we now know the real reason Pence was called back from New Hampshire at the last moment.
What could have been a messy story that Democrats and the media would certainly have used against Trump has now been flipped into yet another positive development in the ongoing battle against opioid dependence in this country.