Longtime Iowa greyhound breeder convicted of selling drugs illegally to dog owners across U.S.

·4 min read
Greyhounds compete in a race at Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque on Saturday, May 26, 2018.
Greyhounds compete in a race at Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque on Saturday, May 26, 2018.

A longtime west Iowa Greyhound kennel owner pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in connection with a fraudulent scheme to sell prescription drugs and controlled substances on the internet to others in the greyhound racing industry across the U.S..

Jon Stidham, 57, of McClelland, was convicted under a plea agreement of conspiracy to deliver, distribute or dispense methyltestosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance, without a valid prescription and without complying with federal and Iowa licensing requirements. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud.

Stidham faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 15 years behind bars, a $750,000 fine, and up to life on supervised release after imprisonment. He also has to forfeit $527,510 in illegal profits to the government.

He will be sentenced after a pre-sentence investigation. His attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said Wednesday that Stidham has agreed to serve 15 months behind bars, with supervision after his release.

"It's been a difficult time for Mr. Stidham," Brown said.

Prosecutors: Kennel owner's store sold misbranded drugs online

Federal prosecutors said the longtime kennel owner — a former board member of the Iowa Greyhound Racing Association who was previously investigated in connection with the use of performance-enhancing drugs at Iowa greyhound tracks — conspired to illegally sell drugs to other kennel owners.

Stidham has a store in McClelland called Kennel Supply that sells products for dogs and animals online. From 2015 to 2018, prosecutors said, he sold more than 300,000 doses of methyltestosterone, a hormone replacement drug. It mimics testosterone and can be used on both dogs and humans.

The drug is sometimes used to prevent female greyhounds from going into heat, Brown said.

During the same period, Stidham also illegally distributed over 50 types of prescription drugs to customers without a valid prescription or authorization, reaping a profit of more than $200,000, federal court documents say. The drugs were considered misbranded because they included no dosage instructions, as would drugs legally prescribed by a veterinarian, according to a plea agreement.

Stidham used an unnamed family member and co-conspirator in Kansas to help ship the drugs and then pick them up, prosecutors said, and also used a Kansas veterinarian's license and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration registration number to acquire the drugs from wholesalers. The drug sales happened without any animal examination by a vet, as is typically required.

Stidham and others, who were not named, forged the veterinarian's signature, according to the plea agreement.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission suspended Stidham's kennel license at the end of December after he failed to report that he had been charged in federal court in Cedar Rapids. Anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years cannot be a licensed breeder in Iowa.

"We will want to look at the actual court documents, but if he pleaded guilty to a felony ... our rules don't allow that," said Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko.

Stidham left the Iowa Racing Association board in January 2020.

Last Iowa greyhound track marking final season

Stidham's conviction comes as Iowa's last greyhound racing track, Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque, prepares for its final racing season. At the end of the shortened season, running from April 16 to May 15, greyhound racing in Iowa — one of just a handful of states with active tracks — will exist no more.

In 2015, Stidham was the subject of investigations into the use of performance-enhancing drugs at Iowa Greyhound Park and the now-defunct Bluffs Run track in Council Bluffs.

Officials with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said that dogs given random, pre-race tests had tested positive for ractopamine. The drug, usually administered to livestock, can increase muscle mass, open airways for oxygenation and decrease fat.

In Dubuque, one of 12 dogs that tested positive died. Nine that tested positive were from Stidham Racing LLC, owned by Stidham.

That eventually led to another investigation by Iowa's Board of Pharmacy and Division of Criminal Investigation.

The Board of Pharmacy received a tip from a West Virginia animal hospital, which said Stidham was marketing and selling drugs, including methylestosterone, illegally online.

Over the years, he also routinely texted with customers to sell methylestosterone, according to his plea agreement.

Prosecutors said the Iowa Board of Pharmacy told Stidham that his sale of prescription drugs and controlled substances was not lawful, according to federal court documents. The board gave him instructions on how to legally market the drugs, but he didn’t follow the them, according to the federal court case.

On Oct. 17, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant and found that Stidham had a number of misbranded prescription animal drugs, including Sulfamethoxazole, Trimethoprim, Gentizol, Otomax, Butatron and Prednisone.

Lee Rood's Reader's Watchdog column helps Iowans get answers and accountability from public officials, the justice system, businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at lrood@registermedia.com, at 515-284-8549, on Twitter at @leerood or on Facebook at Facebook.com/readerswatchdog.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa greyhound breeder convicted for illegal online drug sales

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