A West Jordan man is facing federal charges, accused of selling fentanyl pills to a Murray woman who overdosed and died in 2016.
Investigators built the case using cellphone records and a source, who said John Aaron Favro, 24, sold his pills to participants in Utah’s drug court, a diversion program aimed at those with addiction issues.
The two-count indictment was unsealed Thursday, and originally filed July 3. Favro could face a 20 year to life sentence for distributing a drug that lead to a death.
On Nov. 21, 2016, a woman — identified in court documents only as M.K.K. — was found dead from an apparent overdose in her Murray apartment. She had a history of drug abuse, and had not been heard from for three days. Next to M.K.K. on her bed was a shoe box with two small blue pills with the label A215 — an imprint signifying oxycodone. A toxicology analysis found high levels of fentanyl in her blood, and the Utah Medical Examiner ruled she died from fentanyl intoxication.
In January 2019, the federal complaint said, M.K.K.’s parents helped DEA agents link their daughter to Favro. On the family’s cellphone plan, the parents found a call from their daughter to a number, placed just before she took an Uber ride on the last day she was heard from. The parents called the number in January, and learned it belonged to Favro — who said he hadn’t seen M.K.K. since Nov. 18, 2016. Later, Favro called the parents, saying M.K.K. owed him $400, which the parents wired to him.
In January, according to the complaint, DEA agents talked to a confidential source who said they believed Favro supplied fentanyl to the woman. In 2016, the source was participating in the state’s drug court program, and noticed a person, identified as A.T., who was high. The source asked A.T. how they were getting high without getting kicked out of the drug court program — and A.T. said “drug court staff did not check for fentanyl in the urine analysis tests.”
Kele Griffone, director of Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Services, which runs the drug court program, said Friday that the vendor contracted to do urine analysis tests in 2016 did not test for fentanyl, because it was not as widely used then as it is now.
The company the division contracts with now includes fentanyl among the drugs tested for by urine analysis, she said. The tests are performed randomly, and participants “don’t know what they’re geing tested for,” Griffone said.
Some 21,000 drug tests were performed on drug court participants in 2018, and another 8,300 in the first six months of 2019, Griffone said. There are around 550 participants in the five drug court programs run by Salt Lake County, she said.
The probable cause statement says the source repeatedly asked A.T. for fentanyl, and in October 2016 the person said a person he called “Slim,” would supply it. The source went to buy fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills from “Slim,” who, the statement says, was Favro.
In October 2016, M.K.K., who was participating in drug court after using heroin, had relapsed. The source told M.K.K. that they had a fentanyl supplier, and together they bought six fentanyl pills for $100 — and started to do this daily.
DEA agents interviewed A.T. this April, and he admitted that he referred customers to Favro. DEA agents also analyzed an exchange of text messages on Nov. 17, 2016, between M.K.K. and the phone identified as Favro’s — with messages like “I got money,” “How much?” and “Fifty..can I get two?”
Favro has faced drug possession charges at the state level five times since 2014. In the most recent case, he was charged with possession of marijuana and heroin after an April 7, 2019, hit-and-run accident. An arraignment hearing for those charges was set for July 3, the same day the federal charges were filed.