Reformed Junkie And Founder Of Granite State Recovery Preyed On Addicted Women, Made Millions Off Of Opiate Crisis, Influenced Politicians, Threatened Victims Of Sexual Misconduct
This is Eric Spofford, who describes himself as an “internationally recognized serial entrepreneur, public speaker, real estate mogul, and entrepreneurial coach”
He brands himself as a reformed drug addict and criminal who was “in the streets for real,” until his early 20’s when he turned his life around, opened Green Mountain Treatment Center, saved the lives of many thousands of addicts, and made himself a fortune in the process.
Spofford built a reputation as a leader in New Hampshire’s addiction treatment industry and has been praised by Governor Chris Sununu who has sought out his advice in combatting the opiate crisis. Spofford has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Sununu’s campaign, and in return Granite State Recovery (a private for-profit company) has been awarded more than $3 million in no-bid contracts to house people waiting for treatment or in need of shelter.
Spofford is also a supporter of former President Trump. In 2019, GRC was set to host a visit from Vice President Mike Pence, but it was canceled at the last minute, when White House officials realized that a high-ranking GRC employee and close friend of Spofford’s, Jeff Hatch, had been caught trafficking fentanyl across state lines. (Hatch was recently sentenced to three years probation.)
Vice President Mike Pence was one short plane ride away from shaking hands with an alleged interstate drug dealer. Pence abruptly canceled his trip to Manchester, N.H., earlier this month but never said why he was pulled from Air Force Two at the last minute. The vice president’s aides and even President Donald Trump himself kept up the suspense. “You’ll know in about two weeks,” Trump told reporters at the time. “There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire.”
In 2015, then-U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte invited Spofford to Washington to testify at a Senate hearing on opioid abuse. In 2018, he was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as “Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New Hampshire and New England.”
It seems like a feel good story, similar to Chris Herren’s, but he has profited immensely off of his work and turned opiate addiction recovery into a multi-million dollar industry. In March he posted a video from his $20.75 million home in Miami.
He promotes himself as an entrepreneur, not a recovery specialist like Herren does, and shows off his private jet and yacht frequently. His social media is almost exclusively dedicated to flaunting his wealth while referencing how he used to be a junkie.
Like any relatable guy whose primary concern is opiate addiction recovery, Eric likes to post about how he finances his $5.2 million yacht.
He’s the Elon Musk of junkies.
Spofford claims that he was humble at first, and carried himself as a legitimate businessman in order to woo people in the healthcare industry, but now he’s so rich so he don’t gotta wear a suit no more!
His company made a fortune off the opiate epidemic, receiving money from healthcare companies and the government (Medicaid) who referred patients to him.
In late March New Hampshire Public Radio did a story on Spofford alleging several incidents of sexual misconduct:
Elizabeth walked out of Green Mountain Treatment Center in 2017 on what she described as a spiritual high. She was newly sober and excited to start the next chapter of her recovery from opioid addiction. Those feelings were fleeting. Just one day after leaving treatment, she said she received unsolicited, explicit Snapchat messages, including a photo of a penis and invitations to meet for sex. The content of these messages disturbed her, but it was the sender that broke her. The messages came from Eric Spofford, the founder of Granite Recovery Centers (GRC), the parent company of the facility Elizabeth had just left. Spofford is one of the most prominent and influential figures in New Hampshire’s response to the opioid epidemic. Two weeks later, Elizabeth relapsed. She began using opioids again. While relapses are common in recovery, she said Spofford’s harassment, “definitely, definitely, 100% set me back in my recovery.” NHPR agreed to identify Elizabeth by her middle name only, because she’s concerned about the repercussions of speaking publicly.
Elizabeth is not alone. An NHPR investigation has discovered multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, abusive leadership, and retaliation by Spofford while he was CEO of GRC. A former GRC employee told NHPR that in 2018, Spofford sexually assaulted her during the workday. In 2020, according to multiple sources, another GRC employee told several colleagues that Spofford had sexually assaulted her, leading some of them, including the chief operating officer, to quit the company. Multiple sources say Spofford told them he negotiated a paid settlement with this employee that had the effect of silencing her.
Because of his association with conservative politicians Spofford presents himself as the victim of left wing fake news media, and perhaps his political affiliations have helped fuel that. But the story is damning and the reporters did their research. NHPR is overtly liberal, but this was not a left wing hit piece that ignores facts. They interviewed dozens of people who corroborated these allegations, and you should read the whole thing. Spofford tried to bully the taxpayer funded media outlet from publishing the story by threat of lawsuit, so you know everything they published was carefully vetted by their legal department:
Spofford did not respond to specific questions about the allegations. His lawyer, Mitchell Schuster, said in a written statement, “Mr. Spofford denies any alleged misconduct — in particular, the sexual assault accusations, which are not only categorically untrue, but defamatory in nature.” Schuster threatened legal action if NHPR published its story.
You know you’re dealing with scummy lawyers and scummy people when they minimize the stories of victims by reducing them to lying drug addicts:
The statement continues, “Some recovering addicts are uniquely suited to work in the field and are able to use their past experiences to help others in need. Others relapse and revert to the lies that tragically go hand-in-hand with addiction.”
This is an organization that’s supposed to be sympathetic to addicts, not stigmatize them.
According to one former client who spoke with NHPR, Spofford used his wealth and influence to sexually harass vulnerable, drug addicted women. He used Snapchat to send the dick pics so that he would know if they were screenshotted.
In Spofford’s case, he worked with an especially vulnerable population: people struggling to recover from substance use disorder, who have sometimes experienced homelessness, abuse or sexual trauma. When Elizabeth first met Spofford, she was in her mid-20s. She had a history of heroin addiction and told NHPR she had relapsed after a serious bike accident. When she was at Green Mountain Treatment Center – GRC’s flagship facility – in 2017, she remembers Spofford was hard to miss. He’d fly to the Effingham campus in a helicopter, landing in the front yard. On Elizabeth’s final day of treatment, she said Spofford asked her to have lunch with him and another colleague in the Green Mountain cafeteria.
Elizabeth spent one month at Green Mountain, detoxing and then attending group sessions, learning the 12-step method of recovery, and bonding with staff and other clients. She left in a “really, really good place.”
The next day, she said Spofford reached out to her on Snapchat. She recalled the messages he sent: “He was already planning to come see me, wanted to take me out, wanted to do explicit things with me, was sending me pictures — dick pictures.”
NHPR has not viewed any Snapchat messages sent by Spofford. Videos, photos and messages sent via Snapchat disappear after the recipient views them. If the recipient takes a screenshot to save the message, the sender is notified.
Spofford’s messages sent Elizabeth into a complicated mental spiral, just as she was trying to reorient her life.
“A CEO of a treatment center I left 24 hours ago should not be sending me pictures of his dick,” she said. “That’s just integrity 101, right?”
“A girl who’s a month sober does not love herself yet, does not even know who she is, does not feel any validation from anything within herself,” Elizabeth told NHPR. “I felt like this man that has presented himself with all this power and prestige and money, which has been shoved in my face for 30 days, wants me. So I must be good enough.”
Elizabeth worried about the consequences of rejecting Spofford. “I think that’s common for women,” she said. “He just painted himself almost larger than life, right? So I can’t screw with him or make him upset.”
She feared Spofford might tarnish her reputation or even cause her to lose her bed in the sober home where she moved after treatment. So she said that while she didn’t encourage Spofford’s advances and never met up with him, she didn’t explicitly tell him to stop sending the messages.
Elizabeth said the messages continued occasionally over the next two years. She recalled a message he sent in 2019, after she saw Spofford at an event he was attending with his girlfriend.
“He texted me as soon as I left, telling me how good my ass looked, that he wanted to meet up with me and f*** me,” she said.
Under no circumstances is it ever appropriate for the owner of a detox facility to pursue a sexual relationship with a recovering addict.
Another woman claims she told him that sex was part of the 12 step process.
Around 2018, Spofford started sending her seemingly innocuous messages on Snapchat. Gradually, Employee A said, the communications became inappropriate: a message about how sex was part of his 12-step work. Then pictures of Spofford shirtless. And then, pictures of his penis.
As the photos escalated, Employee A said, she got “super nervous.” She had a criminal record, and she felt indebted to Spofford for giving her a chance.
“I needed to do whatever it took to keep this job,” she said.
“A lot of people that I worked with put Eric on this pedestal of: ‘Eric is the greatest man in recovery,’” Employee A said. “I was not about to be the person to say otherwise.”
This employee ended up having sex with him because she felt pressured to do so. When he saw her with another man she was fired.
A few months later, she said, Spofford saw her at GRC’s headquarters having lunch with a male colleague she had dated. Spofford started “yelling and screaming and telling me to leave the property,” she said.
Employee A said she confronted Spofford about his reaction. She was fired the next day by her immediate boss, who told her the cause was incomplete work. But Employee A believes it was retaliation by Spofford.
Three sources independently confirmed details of Employee A’s story. In an interview with NHPR, one of them, a friend, recalled an anguished phone call soon after Employee A was fired. The friend said Employee A told her about the firing, the Snapchat messages, the condoms in Spofford’s desk drawer and an unwanted sexual proposition.
This is Piers Kaniuka, Spofford’s sponsor when he was 19 years old, who went on to work for GRC in 2016.
He was specifically mentioned by name in the article and legitimized the serious allegations against Spofford, comparing Spofford to Harvey Weinstein:
“He should be shunned, shamed and probably prosecuted,” said Piers Kaniuka, the former director of spiritual life at GRC, who wrote a book with Spofford in 2019 called “Real People Real Recovery”.
Kaniuka said that when he went to work at GRC, he knew “fully well that [Spofford] had liabilities. I certainly didn’t know he was going to turn out to be like Harvey Weinstein. I wouldn’t have [joined the company] if I had known that.”
The final straw for Brian Stoesz and Piers Kaniuka came in the spring of 2020. Stoesz, the chief operating officer at GRC, had only been in his job a few months, but Kaniuka, the company’s director of spiritual life, had known Spofford for years.
In “Real People Real Recovery,” the book he co-authored with Kaniuka, Spofford wrote, “Piers was the first person I had met in recovery who made sense to me.” Spofford said he was 19 when he met Kaniuka at a detox facility. Kaniuka later became his sponsor in the recovery process. In 2016, Kaniuka agreed to join GRC’s staff, and he was a popular presence among clients. He said at first, he didn’t believe the rumors about Spofford’s treatment of women.
“I fault myself for not coming to this sooner,” he told NHPR, “but I’m not the only one.”
NHPR has learned that at least four staff members, including Stoesz and Kaniuka, quit GRC in the spring of 2020 because of allegations that Spofford sexually assaulted an employee and then retaliated against her. Another member of the leadership team was fired as a result of the fallout.
Brian Stoesz, the former chief operating officer, and Piers Kaniuka, the former director of spiritual life, said they often heard Spofford speak disparagingly of women. Many former employees who spoke to NHPR, including Stoesz and Kaniuka, said some of Spofford’s descriptors for women were “crazy,” “nuts” and “borderline.”
Spofford described using “pimp hands” in his treatment of employees, according to two sources. Kaniuka defined the phrase this way: “You abuse your staff, and then you’re nice to them and then you abuse them.”
“I’ve never worked in an environment that was so maliciously abusive — bullying, intimidation, hostile,” Stoesz said.
Yesterday, two months after the NHPR story was written, Eric Spofford posted a letter from Kaniuka on his personal Facebook page, in which he retracted the statements in the article, but didn’t deny saying any of them.
The letter he posted came with a personal message from Spofford, bragging about how he sold GRC for nine figures, calling the story fake news (even though it was based off of the testimony of over 50 people), and accusing Kaniuka of lying. He claims he’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees to sue NHPR for writing factual things about him. If he does so he will undoubtably lose since the bar for defamation is so high, he is a public figure, and everything they reported can be corroborated. He also claims to be suing the sources, AKA the people who had the audacity to come forward and tell NHPR about their experiences.
“When my lawyers told Piers’ lawyer that we were going to sue him for defamatory statements, he negotiated a settlement in exchange for letting NHPR known the truth about this statements: that they were false.”
Does he think this makes him look good? Does he think people can’t see what he’s doing here? This is an admittance that he used his wealth and legal resources to bully a man into retracting his statements because it would be so expensive to undergo litigation. He’s not even hiding it. Piers’ letter to NHPR is about as legitimate a North Korean pre-execution confession video. I hope Spofford does sue. When he learns about discovery, has to open his books, and lawyers get to depose him, it’s going to be a much worse look than this article.
If it were one person making an allegation that would be one thing, but there are over 50 people telling similar stories. In the last 24 hours I’ve received messages from two more people claiming that they received dick pics from him after receiving services from him. Their stories are almost identical to the ones NHPR received:
I’d like to remain anonymous. But I too was struggling years ago and knew him through the program. I had him texting me pictures and asking to meet up. This was about 10 years ago so I definitely don’t have proof, nor would I want to share it. I live a different life now. But I can guarantee he’s money and power hungry and preys on women. I never responded to the picture. But when I read that NHPR article I just knew that everything had to be true. He paints himself as being such a role model but I’ve seen first hand how he runs through women. And probably used his “platform” to gain their attention. Someone who is the “face of recovery” should be a little more relatable. Not taking private jets to Miami every other month.
Spofford portrays himself as a loving family man on social media. He has one child with another woman, and his girlfriend Persephanie, a former addict he met through GRC, recently gave birth to his second child.
If you look back on his FB page you’ll see his youngest son’s mother was in an induced coma from Covid. She had the baby during this and was intubated for several weeks after giving birth. He posted about her regularly, showing how “involved” he was in her care. She has since recovered and he doesn’t mention her at all.
The source we spoke with had nothing but good things to say about Piers though.
Piers helped A LOT of people in recovery and was always incredibly humble. As one should be in recovery.
Despite claiming to have led a life of crime that he has since got himself out of, NHPR couldn’t find much on Spofford’s criminal background.
Spofford dropped out of high school and lived a hard life of heroin addiction, drug trafficking and homelessness. He said he overdosed five times and went to jail several times. (NHPR could only confirm one overdose and one arrest and related jail time in Maine, for carrying a concealed weapon.) Spofford said he finally stopped using drugs for good in 2006, at the age of 21. Two years later, with financial backing from his father, Spofford secured a loan to buy a house in Derry. Spofford turned the building into an 11-bed sober living facility, The Granite House, and he became its first resident.
Spofford started his business as overdose deaths were beginning a steep, steady climb in New England. From that first sober home, GRC grew into a sprawling treatment network that now includes three residential treatment facilities, detox, outpatient treatment and multiple sober homes. The need for treatment was — and remains — immense; in 2019, Spofford said he had a waiting list of 40 to 60 people a day.
Almost like it’s part of “building the brand.”
I’m sure he had run ins with the law but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s embellished these stories. To get that “shock factor” from people. In that community the crazier the story you had the more popular you were. Mine was boring … I was with a guy who got me hooked and then I was better. No one cares about that. But you talk about ODs, guns, arrests, jail, etc. People are interested. That whole “wow, look how far he’s come that’s amazing” the drug world is fueled by power and money. Now his recovery world is fueled by power and money. It’s like drugs have been exchanged for notoriety, women, planes, yachts, etc.
And I am not one of the “me too” people, I’m not all about women’s rights and all that crap. Half the time I see sexual harassment claims I call BS. But I just know there’s truth to all of this. He thrives off attention and power especially over women.
After the story came out Spofford started posting inspirational videos nonstop on Instagram, filled with cliches about “finding your authentic self,” and “investing in you.”
I attempted to comment on the his Facebook post from earlier, but he ended up blocking my account. Feel free to ask him yourself on his page why he blocks people asking legitimate questions about his long and documented history of sexual misconduct. He wants to get his story out there, and I’d be more than willing to have him on the Live Show tomorrow to tell his side of it.
But it seems like he prefers an echo chamber of ass kissers and enablers who suck up to him and tell him that all these allegations against him are part of some jealous left wing conspiracy to take him down:
Republican State Senator Harold French thinks the media should be singing Spofford’s praises, despite all these women who were sexually harassed by him.
I guess Harold French doesn’t mind associating himself with sexual deviants.
Anyway Eric, you can try to threaten me with defamation lawsuits like you to do everyone else, but you’re quickly going to learn that I’m not intimidated like so many other people are. I’ve exposed more powerful people than you, and I’m certainly not afraid of a former junkie who made millions of dollars off the opiate epidemic, preys on vulnerable women, and uses his wealth, power, and influnce to coerce them into having sex with him.