WRAL: Lead pastor “pleaded guilty to at least seven counts of embezzlement”
Substance use and opioid overdose is a serious and deadly problem across the country and in North Carolina. Yet, Senator Danny Britt backed a $10 million project designated for a local church and nonprofit to open an opioid treatment center – despite the church having “zero track record of providing drug treatment.” The $10 million earmark is now overseen by lead pastor, Ronald Barnes, who has at least seven previous convictions for embezzlement.
The $10 million accounts for 60 percent of the entire state’s funding for in-state drug rehabilitation. Meanwhile, substance use experts say that state money should be directed to “clinics and organizations with a track record of providing evidence-based addiction treatment,” not to unproven groups with limited oversight.
“This is pork-barrel politics at its worst. Senator Britt is abusing his position to try and shore up support for his re-election campaign instead of actually helping his constituents,” said NCDP Executive Director Meredith Cuomo. “It is reckless and shows a clear lack of concern for the real harm being felt in the community. This kind of pay for play is another reason why voters will choose new leadership for NC Senate District 13 this fall.”
WFAE 90.7: Targeting the opioid crisis, NC lawmakers give $10 million to a new church ministry
WRAL: Church, nonprofit with zero track record of providing drug treatment awarded $10 mil from state to combat opioid crisis