A former top executive at the predecessor to Roper St. Francis Healthcare recently resigned as the head of a New York hospital after admitting during a bizarre twist in a trial that he was a crack-cocaine user, according to reports.
John S. Steel Jr. was named chief financial officer at CareAlliance Health Services in 1998 and worked for the local nonprofit hospital system until about five years ago. He also held the title of senior vice president of corporate services at what is now Roper St. Francis.
Steel's local profile was elevated in June 2002 when he was tapped to serve as the CareAlliance's interim chief executive officer, a position he held for one year.
He left the local health care system in November 2004 and took a job as deputy executive director at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He was promoted to executive director of that hospital in 2007.
Steel admitted to using crack cocaine last month in New York while testifying under immunity in the trial of a woman who had been charged with driving while intoxicated.
According to news reports, the woman testified that the only reason she got behind the wheel was to escape an attempted sexual assault by Steel.
He denied the assault allegation and testified that he met the woman in a bar and asked her to buy crack cocaine with him, according to Long Island's Newsday newspaper.
The DWI charges against the woman were dropped July 17.
Steel quit his hospital position four days later, according to Crain's New York Business.
Crain's reported that Long Island Jewish Medical Center announced in a July 21 memo that Steel, after spending weeks on leave "to focus on personal issues," stepped down "to focus on his recovery."
Steel said in court testimony that he was seeking rehabilitation help in Pennsylvania.
Roper St. Francis communications director Tricia Crimminger confirmed Steel's local employment history but declined to comment further, saying Wednesday that was all "the information we have and are able to share."
As CFO of the health care system in the late 1990s, Steel was part of a management team that steered the massive deal that formed Roper St. Francis by merging Roper CareAlliance and Bon Secours-St. Francis Hospital. The combination included 4,500 workers at three hospitals and more than two dozen other sites in the local area.
Charleston County real estate records show that Steel maintains ties to the Lowcountry. He and his wife own property on Kiawah Island.