A New York registered nurse convicted of selling an Acworth teenager a drug that contributed to his 2010 death was sentenced to prison Wednesday in federal court in Atlanta.
The 18-year-old, who was not identified in court, bought the drug phenazepam on eBay from defendant Matthew Schroeder of North Tonawanda, N.Y., in August 2010, prosecutors said. The drug, similar to Valium but much more powerful, is prohibited from being sold in the U.S. except for research.
According to prosecutors and testimony presented at court, on Aug. 24 of that year, the teenager, two of his friends and an adult, Kerrie Sue Chatham, 44, were partying at Chatham’s Acworth home. The 18-year-old mixed powdery phenazepam with alcohol and injected the mixture. The teen was also taking oxycodone pills that Chatham had provided, prosecutors said.
After a 911 call the next morning, Cherokee County Sheriff’s deputies found the teen unconscious from an overdose. The teen, who had a bloody nose, his two friends and Chatham were taken to the hospital, where the 18-year-old died. The cause of death was the combination of phenazepam, oxycodone and another drug, propoxyphene, according to prosecutors.
An overdose of phenazepam can quickly lead to loss of bowel control, respiratory depression, coma and death, prosecutors said. Side effects can last for days and sometimes weeks.
“Phenazepam is a highly dangerous drug which has become a popular alternative to street drugs,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement about the case. “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.”
Schroeder, who admitted selling phenazepam to the 18-year-old and others around the country, was convicted on Aug. 2. He was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison and three years’ supervised release.
Chatham earlier was sentenced to three years in prison for supplying the teen with oxycodone.