Matthew Schroeder, 29, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge J. Owen Forrester for using eBay to sell a “party drug” known as phenazepam, which is not approved for sale in the United States.
The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Schroeder was ordered to serve three years of supervision following his sentence.
On Aug. 2, he was convicted upon entering a guilty plea of dispensing a misbranded prescription drug without a prescription, and with intent to defraud and mislead.
According to authorities, phenazepam is related to Valium but many times stronger. While not listed as a controlled substance under federal drug laws, its sale for consumption is prohibited except for strictly regulated research.
In August 2010, an 18-year-old Acworth man purchased phenazepam from Schroeder on eBay, according to evidence in the case. On the night of Aug. 24, 2010, the 18-year-old, his teenage friends and Kerrie Sue Chatham, 44, of Acworth, partied at Chatham’s home in Acworth.
While watching movies, the 18-year-old mixed phenazepam in powder form with alcohol and then injected the mixture. He was also taking oxycodone pills given to him by Chatham, according to investigators.
The next morning, Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call from Chatham’s home. They arrived to find the teen unconscious with a nose bloodied from an overdose.
The teen, Chatham and two others were taken to the hospital. The 18-year-old later died, while the others were later released.
An autopsy concluded that the 18-year-old’s death was an accident caused by phenazepam, oxycodone and propoxyphene.
Officials said phenazepam magnifies the effects of other substances and can be fatal in small doses, especially when mixed with alcohol and other depressants. Side effects – such as loss of bowel control, respiratory depression and coma – can last for days and sometimes weeks.
“Selling dangerous drugs is a potentially deadly business whether you do it in person or via the Internet,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.
“Phenazepam is a highly dangerous drug which has become a popular alternative to street drugs. As a registered nurse and abuser of phenazepam, Schroeder was especially aware of the drug’s dangers, yet he marketed the drug over eBay with no warnings and a fraudulent banner purporting to prohibit purchases by law enforcement and for any purpose other than research.”
Chatham was arrested on state charges for distributing oxycodone, a Schedule II drug, and sentenced to serve three years in prison.
An investigation by the FDA and sheriff’s office traced the 18-year-old’s purchase of phenazepam to Schroeder through eBay, email and PayPal records, along with information provided by the victim’s parents. Authorities discovered evidence of phenazepam sales in Schroeder’s apartment and computer in North Tonawanda, N.Y.
Investigators said Schroeder admitted to selling phenazepam to the teen and others around the country.