A Lexington city employee is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday on charges of possession of a large amount of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller associated with overdoses.
William Dixon, 55, an employee of the city’s Division of Water Quality, was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and one count of possession with intent to distribute acylfentanyl, fentanyl and heroin.
According to the indictment, in July, Lexington police searched Dixon’s home and discovered at least 40 grams of fentanyl.
“This case represents the largest seizure of pure fentanyl to date for our agency,” Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard said in a news release. “Families are hurting because of the abuse of fentanyl, heroin and other opioids. We are continuing to investigate this case.”
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Fentanyl is 40 to 50 times stronger than street-level heroin. The drug is sometimes combined with heroin, and fentanyl contributed to a record number of overdose deaths in the state in 2015. Drug use and overdose rates drew Attorney General Loretta Lynch to the region earlier this week and led to a crackdown in Louisville, where large amounts of overdoses have occurred in single nights. Other alleged distributors have been targeted in nearby communities.
Dixon has on paid leave because of an on-the-job injury in April. In a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier will determine whether Dixon will remain in custody pending trial. Dixon is scheduled to be arraigned Monday before U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood.
If convicted, Dixon would face five years to 40 years in federal prison. He is represented by Lexington lawyer Russ Baldani.
U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said it’s fortunate that the fentanyl was seized before it was distributed.
“Minute quantities of fentanyl can be deadly,” Harvey said. “Given the damage fentanyl has caused in Central Kentucky, it’s staggering to consider the harm that would have been done by these drugs on the streets of our community.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindy Rieker is prosecuting the case on behalf of the federal government.