Court docs: Pence's NH trip canceled to avoid meeting alleged drug dealer

There's new information about a mysterious canceled trip by Vice President Mike Pence to the Granite State earlier this month.

It centers around a former NFL player he likely would’ve met during that visit and a shocking criminal case involving fentanyl trafficking.

Boston 25 previously interviewed that star athlete about his addiction and efforts to help addicts get clean.

Former Giants player and New Hampshire resident Jeff Hatch exclusively opened up to Boston 25 News inside his Manchester home in October 2017 about staying clean and helping other addicts do the same.

Former NFL player pulls back curtain on opioid abuse in league

That was nearly three months after investigators say he brought approximately 1,500 grams of fentanyl into that same home after picking up the large supply of drugs in Lawrence.

"And I'll be honest with you. I've seen a lot of guys die and I get it. It's tough. That's my story, but it doesn't have to be that way," Hatch said in 2017.

It was a story of addiction and determination that resonated in a region reeling from the ongoing impact of the opioid crisis.

"Take 1 to 2 every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain and then I remember the day I went 'But yeah this will probably help with the emotional pain I'm feeling right now too,'" Hatch said in 2017.

Hatch told Boston 25 News about how he went from an Ivy League grad, drafted by the Giants in 2002, to an addict hooked on painkillers.

"I wanted to end my life. I woke up every day hoping I would die, and I tried to drug myself to death," Hatch said at the time. He said he had been sober for 11 1/2 years, and was determined to help other addicts get on that same path through his work at Granite Recovery Centers in Hampshire.

But court documents allege months before that, Hatch was already a focal point of a federal law enforcement probe that involved transporting more than $100,000 worth of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

We're now learning that shocking criminal case just came to light, ahead of Pence's scheduled trip to New Hampshire earlier this month, which resulted in Air Force Two being turned around.

Eric Spofford, CEO of Granite Recovery Centers, the opioid addiction treatment center that Pence was supposed to visit, released this statement:

I am shocked, disappointed, and heartbroken.

Neither me nor anyone at Granite Recovery Centers was aware of Jeff's actions. It was unfortunately a well kept secret. I was made aware of this situation today at approximately 11am. I don't condone what he did and I'm incredibly upset. He was terminated immediately.

Granite Recovery Centers has over 200 of the most dedicated passionate people that go above and beyond to fight in the mission against addiction every single day. The actions of 1 do not discredit the amazing work they all do.

Addiction is insidious. This illness effects people from all walks of life. From the inner city poor to CEO's, lawyers, and doctors. This situation highlights why those of us on the front lines need to remain vigilant and must battle every day against addiction and the opioid epidemic. - Eric Spofford, CEO, Granite Recovery Centers

That CEO himself has battled with addiction, spending most of his teenage years dealing and doing drugs.

He now has a key role in helping an estimated 2,000 addicts a year at through the largest drug treatment organization in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen released this statement:

"Granite Staters seeking recovery from substance use disorders put their trust in Mr. Hatch and it's incredibly disappointing to see how badly that trust was betrayed. He needs to be held accountable."  - Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

Hatch, 39, pleaded guilty last Friday, and now faces up to four years in prison. His attorney, Chuck Keefe, declined comment Monday.

He’s reportedly agreed to help authorities arrest other dealers in exchange for a lighter sentence.

The vice president’s office is declining to comment, but his aides say he plans to reschedule the trip to New Hampshire.