A former Lexington city employee has pleaded guilty to possession of a drug blamed for mounting overdose deaths.
William P. Dixon pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Lexington to possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute it, according to court records.
Dixon was an employee of the city’s Division of Water Quality but resigned recently. He had been on paid leave for a work injury at the time he was charged in September.
Dixon pleaded guilty in 2003 to felony cocaine and weapons charges and was sentenced to three years in prison. The earlier drug conviction meant he faced a sentence of up to life in prison on the new charges.
However, prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of 10 years as part of Dixon’s plea agreement. He also agreed to forfeit $3,000 to Lexington police that was found in July in a search of his home on Walcot Way.
Dixon is to be sentenced in February.
Lexington police began investigating Dixon after receiving information in April that he was selling heroin from his home. Police ultimately supervised three undercover buys from him, according to court documents.
Police found drugs — either fentanyl or a mix of fentanyl and heroin — hidden in a baseball glove and a lampshade in Dixon’s garage and in a Crown Royal bag in his kitchen, according to court documents.
It was the largest amount of fentanyl that Lexington police had ever seized, Chief Mark Barnard said in a news release at the time.
Dixon admitted that he started selling cocaine again after getting out of prison, then moved into heroin at some point, Lexington police detective Jared Curtsinger testified at one hearing.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says fentanyl is 40 to 50 times more powerful than street-level heroin. Traffickers sometimes mix fentanyl with heroin to stretch their heroin supply, but that means drug users sometimes get a far more powerful dose than they expect.
Growing availability and abuse of fentanyl helped drive overdose deaths to a record high of 1,248 in 2015.