Mysterious piles hypodermic needles, vials of blood and other hazardous medical waste were dumped in five different spots, including Hemlock Park Elementary School in Bay Shore and nature trails in Mastic and Shirley.
Over a year later, authorities say 33 year old Erick St. Louis dumped the contaminated material, with reckless disregard for the kids who could find it.
"He just didn't care. He was an addict and he wanted to satisfy his craving," Suffolk Co. District Attorney Tom Spota said.
Spota says the drug-addled licensed practical nurse emptied out bags full of waste to sift through the toxic trash for an unusual way to get high.
The drug is the potent painkiller fentinyl. It's up to a hundred times as powerful as morphine, and works like a nicotine patch.
St. Louis was looking for patches that had already been used, authorities said.
"He was actually sucking the residue of the patch, as he described it to us, like you would eat an artichoke," Spota.
Prosecutors say St. Louis stole the waste from at least three assisted living facilities, including island nursing in Holtsville. It keeps red bag waste in a locked shed, which St. Louis allegedly admitted to burglarizing. Management has since beefed up the locks. Back at Hemlock Park Elementary, parent Lynette Mercardo says she still won't let her kids play in the school yard where the medical waste wound up. She is relieved, though, that detectives have solved this mystery.
"It's crazy what some people would do just to get high, you know?" she said.