Subject of Signal heroin series arrested on misdemeanor drug charge

James "Kenny" Fusca smiles as Cary Quashen promises him a job if he remains sober for a year. Fusca said, after his three-month stint in jail, that he wants to spend his life helping people. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The young man at the center of a series published by The Signal about the rehabilitation of a heroin addict was arrested recently on a drug-related charge.

James Kenneth Fusca, 20, described by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies in their arrest report as a transient, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia—a misdemeanor.

Fusca was the subject of a five-part series that followed him from drug addiction, to placement in rehab, to relapse and arrest, his release from county jail and, in September, a pledge to stay sober and work to become a counselor.

A day or two after his pledge to stay sober was documented by The Signal on Sept. 12, 2017, Fusca was admitted to a sober living facility in Bakersfield, Cary Quashen, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s executive director of Behavioral Health and director of Action Family Counseling, told The Signal on Tuesday.

Fusca reportedly left the Bakersfield facility about two weeks ago.

“He was doing really well,” Quashen said. “He was going to to school, taking care of business.”

Staff at the sober living facility responded to Fusca’s diligence and hard work by giving him more freedom.

“He needed more structure,” Quashen said, reflecting on staffers extending a degree of latitude.

Once out of the Bakersfield facility, Fusca was reportedly stopped by deputies who allegedly found him in possession of drug paraphernalia.

Despite the fact that Fusca had relapsed before, shortly after having been admitted to the rehab center in Piru, Quashen is giving Fusca another chance.

“We are planning to bring him back to Piru (rehab center) in a week or two,” Quashen said Tuesday.

The day he was released from the Men’s Central Jail in September marked 129 days after his intervention.

For nearly three months, Fusca had been locked up, bounced from one jail to the next, popping up each month inside the Santa Clarita Courthouse waiting to be sentenced.

Fusca pleaded no contest and was convicted in July of five misdemeanors—all committed when he was homeless and stealing to feed his heroin addiction—of drug possession, under the influence, hit and run and petty theft.

When he returned to the Piru center, parents, friends and rehab staffers expressed optimism that his jail experience turned his behavior around.

Fusca is currently living with his mother.

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