Longform

Opiate for the Mrs.

Page 3 of 10

Over the next two years, Gosinski's job would take him on missions to Bangladesh, Vietnam, El Salvador and, in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, to Florida.

Most of his time was spent at AVMT's headquarters in Phoenix. He also grew close to Cindy McCain and her family. He took her and the children on outings, to the state fair. He gave one of her sons swimming lessons.

Things went swimmingly, indeed, until the summer of 1992. That's when things started getting weird at AVMT. It's also when he began documenting events at the workplace in his journal.

In addition to people already mentioned, the journal's cast of characters includes Cindy McCain's parents, Jim and Smitty Hensley; Cindy's aunt and former AVMT receptionist, Jeri Johnson; AVMT employees Kathy Walker and Tracy Orrick; Cari Clark McCain, Jeri Johnson's granddaughter and Cindy's adopted daughter; John Bircumshaw, a contract fund raiser for AVMT; and doctors John Max Johnson, Tom Moffo, Francis Fote, Dennis Everton and Daniel De La Pava.

(All the people mentioned in the passages New Times is publishing have been contacted by phone, and given the opportunity to respond to comments in the journal. Only one, Everton, chose to comment.)

July 20, 1992: Well, this morning I received a call from Francis Fote, a doctor who traveled to El Salvador with AVMT. Fote called to inform me that he had visited with Cindy on Friday regarding the use of his DEA number. He asked that I tell Cindy his number could only be used in the state of New York as that is where he is licensed. I do not know what Cindy is up to but it appears as though she is trying to use several doctors' DEA #'s so that she can acquire drugs for personal use. Kathy Walker has stated several times in the past that this has been going on for quite some time and that the DEA has questioned large acquisitions of drugs such as percocet. We know that 300 percocet have been missing from AVMT's inventory and that Cindy says they are locked up at her home. I really don't know what is going on but I certainly hope that Cindy does not get herself or AVMT in trouble. I also hope that if it is necessary, Cindy is able to get help before she does herself harm. . . .

July 22, 1992: We haven't heard from Cindy today. Who knows what she might be up to. Kathy did find a DEA number from Doctor Everton on Cindy's desk this morning. . . . To date, Tracy, Kathy and I know that on Friday of last week she requested or received DEA numbers from Drs. Tom Moffo, Francis Fote . . . Max Johnson, De La Pava and Everton. I certainly hope that she does not get all of these guys in a lot of trouble.

(Everton says New Times' inquiry marked the first time anyone had asked him about his DEA number--a federally assigned code that allows doctors to dispense drugs internationally--despite his being interviewed by two DEA agents about a year ago. Everton says he doesn't recall giving AVMT his DEA number, although the organization might have had it. Everton adds that he found it odd that months after he went on his one and only AVMT mission, a staff member tracked him down on vacation and asked him to prescribe Tylenol 3--a drug similar to Vicodin--for an upcoming AVMT trip. Everton says he prescribed the drug anyway. He doesn't recall that the prescription was in any individual's name.)

July 29, 1992: Jeri Johnson said that Jim and Smitty are going to confront Cindy about her drug problem. I don't know what the end result will be but I fear that it may be the end of AVMT and my job. Should AVMT be closed down, I trust Jim Hensley will take care of all of us until we are able to find other means of income. I hate to have nasty thoughts, but this family cannot afford to have any of us leave the organization with negative feelings. We all know too much about the way Cindy and John conduct their personal lives. Not a pretty picture.

August 10, 1992: Work is the same. CHM is in Phoenix today and, as is common these days, is up to her old tricks. She told Kathy this morning that she has a call in to Dr. Moffo. I certainly hope she doesn't get him to write her prescriptions for pain pills. Also, we received a bill this morning from Professional Pharmacy for vicodin and Apap with codeine, 200 units each, the prescription written by Max Johnson. I cannot believe the amount of doctors who . . . continue to fill her prescriptions.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.
Jeremy Voas