“I like to think that he was clean that week, that I had the real Timmy, not the drug Timmy,” says Frank.
By late 2007, things had gotten tough in the Kroll house. Tim was an obvious drug addict. Money began to disappear. His days were usually spent at home, sleeping or lounging around. His nights would be passed at his girlfriend’s house. Teri’s American Express card went missing. Tim was confronted about it and admitted he had taken it. With little knowledge of what to do, Teri made an appointment with a priest at the church up the street. Tim did not show up for that meeting, instead he was in his car in the garage, trying to end his life.
Tim was taken to Nassau University Medical Center and admitted into intensive care. It was there that Teri finally faced the truth about her son’s addiction. A friend of Tim’s told Teri about his drug abuse. Teri did not believe it at first, insisting it was all just depression. Tim, his friend said, was afraid that truth would kill his mother if she found out. Teri told him that nothing could kill her. She needed to know so she could help him. Tim said he was a drug addict. He had begun cocaine after he got off the oxycodone, then went to heroin.
“I could not believe it,” says Teri.
“We had no idea it had gotten that bad,” laments Frank, his eyes cast downward.
Tim also told them that the pills Dr. Francis gave him had gotten him hooked.
“Pull me out from inside”
As the Krolls fought their private battle, Dr. Francis allegedly continued to sell prescriptions for cash. In the past few years, with prescription drug and heroin abuse on the rise, cops have had their hands full. “There is an army of these kids who will fight addiction for the rest of their lives,” says Fal.
Many heroin addicts have said the path they walked before graduating to the king of opiates was paved with pills like Percocet, oxycodone, valium, xanax, atavan.
When Frank was laid off from his job as a mechanic in a local dealership, he spent an entire year home with Tim. Throughout that time, Tim was also hospitalized many times for an assortment of ailments. He had barely escaped arrest, but his exploits were exposed to his parents by a family friend. The Krolls did not give up. And they would not turn their backs on their son.
There were relapses. One night, Tim was found slumped in his car in a Friendly’s parking lot. He had been inhaling fumes from a Fentanyl patch. He also swallowed a bottle of Tylenol one night. His parents would not give up.
Tim was working, and willingly submitted to drug testing by his parents. He always passed. He gave his checks to Teri. He had a girlfriend. Tim’s sister got married, and Tim was there, with his dark hair dyed blonde. He laughed. Family members were happy to see him come back around.
He was also talking about his dark days, and reiterated the role Dr. Francis played in his addiction. So Teri decided to call the police and tell them what she knew.
“I am ready. I am…fine”
Dr. Francis—Dr. Frank—was now in the crosshairs of the cops. The investigation moved quickly. In all, nine undercover buys were made, most on camera.
Dr. Francis does not ask for medical records. He would ask what hurt, and then prescribe the meds for cash. In a piece of video shown to the media, Francis accepts $500 from an undercover officer, counts the money and hands over a scrip.
When the police went to arrest Dr. Francis at around 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 8, he was surprised.
“He did not think he did anything wrong,” says Det. Collins. “The staff was surprised, and his wife, who works in the office as a receptionist, was shocked.”
Francis’ attorney, Thomas McCullough of Queens, says he does not know all of the specifics of the case yet, and had not seen the video in its entirety.
Francis, who has a clean record with New York State, is out on $180,000 bail. He is facing nine counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, plus a civil action to seize certain bank accounts and assets allegedly propped up by illegal drug sales.
Det. Collins called Teri Kroll to tell her the good news. Teri’s reply shook the veteran detective to her core.
“She told me that Tim had died Aug. 29,” says Collins. “I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I don’t think I could be that strong.”
On that day, Tim was found in his bed. He had come home from work the night before and gone to sleep. The ambulance was called one last time to their home. Teri says Tim died from heart failure.
Now, the Krolls join the many parents on Long Island who have buried their children, victims of drug abuse and hard living. She hopes that Francis is prosecuted fully and does not have a chance to practice again. That remains to be seen.
“I want Tim to have a legacy,” says Teri.
Frank looks sullen. A large frame holds pictures of his son in various stages of his life. “People criticized us for how we were handling the situation and living our lives. But we would never have thrown Timmy out of the house,” he says. “Now, it hurts coming into the house.
“I just never expected Timmy to die,” says the brokenhearted father, a pencil drawing of the Montauk lighthouse on the wall behind him. “We were all robbed.”