LAKE CHARLES, La. – United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today that a Lake Charles veterinarian and a Nebraska pharmacy were sentenced for selling an unapproved opioid drug 40 times more powerful than morphine for the purpose of improving the performance of race horses.
Kyle James Hebert, 43, of Lake Charles, La., was sentenced to 15 months in prison for one count of conspiracy; two counts of receipt of adulterated or misbranded drug with the intent to defraud and mislead; and one count of misbranding a drug while held for sale with the intent to defraud and mislead. Hebert was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Kohll’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Inc. of Omaha, Neb., was sentenced to five years of corporate probation and ordered to pay a $200,000 fine for one count of conspiracy and two counts of introduction of adulterated or misbranded drug in interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead. United States District Judge Donald E. Walter presided over the sentencing hearing.
Evidence admitted at the nine-day trial that ended November 7, 2017 showed that from November 11, 2010 to December 2012 Hebert, Kohll’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Inc. of Omaha, Neb., which operated as Essential Pharmacy Compounding, and others conspired to distribute a synthetic form of the drug Dermorphin, which was then given to racehorses to improve their racing performance. Essential Pharmacy Compounding repackaged a synthetic form of the drug that it obtained from a California chemical company, labeled it as D-Peptide, and sold it to Hebert and other veterinarians. Hebert then put the drug into syringes and gave the loaded syringes to the racetrack trainers tasked with the horses’ care. Evidence showed that Demorphin is a strong painkiller that masks horses’ pain and any pre-existing injuries. Depending on dosage, it can also act as a stimulant when injected in horses. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for use in humans or animals.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph T. Mickel and David C. Joseph prosecuted the case.