Man, 52, faces drug charges

June 29, 2011

Shorewood - The co-owner of a local funeral home could be facing a felony charge and more than three years in prison, following allegations of drug possession.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office last week charged William Feerick, co-owner of the Feerick Funeral Home, with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. The charges are a felony and misdemeanor, respectively.

Shorewood Police on Feb. 19 responded to Feerick's Shorewood home after fielding a call of heroin overdose. Anthony Vitrano, 22, of Milwaukee, was at Feerick's home and unresponsive when police arrived. Numerous drugs - including painkillers, marijuana, cocaine and heroin - were recovered at the home.

Throughout the investigation, Feerick, 52, has maintained his innocence. According to documents from the police department, he said Vitrano ingested the heroin at his home when he was in a different room. Feerick claims to have met Vitrano through a mutual friend and was attempting to intervene with his drug addiction and have him check into a hospital.

Shorewood Police Officer Anthony Miller initially responded to the scene. Additional officers and paramedics from the North Shore Fire Department followed suit. In his report, Miller said Vitrano was unconscious and described him as having a "grayish skin tone." Vitrano was transported to St. Mary's Hospital-Milwaukee and eventually arrested on a warrant through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections on a probation violation.

Lt. Paul Sullivan, who also was on the scene, said he was convinced Feerick "was under the influence of something" during the investigation, based on his responses. Feerick eventually revealed he had taken a triple dose of the drug Suboxone and claimed it had been prescribed to him because of an addiction to Oxycontin. Feerick was unable to furnish proof he had a prescription and was arrested.

Vitrano had admitted to ingesting heroin at Feerick's home and further claimed he and Feerick had smoked crack cocaine earlier that day. Vitrano stated $20 worth of crack cocaine and two bags of heroin were delivered to Feerick's home.

During their investigation, Shorewood police also recovered several text messages between Feerick and Vitrano about purchasing Oxycontin pills for a good price.

Feerick's initial appearance in Milwaukee County Circuit Court is July 19. He could face a maximum penalty of three-and-a-half years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the felony charge. He also could receive six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor.

Vitrano faces a maximum sentence of three-and-a-half years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Feerick and his brother, Patrick, operate the family funeral business at 2025 E. Capitol Drive. They are the fourth generation of their family to oversee the operation, which has roots going back to the late 1800s.

- Dave Fidlin

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