LYNCHBURG, Va. – A former Lynchburg veterinarian was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on Wednesday, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.
The veterinarian, 54-year-old Patrick Gries, admitted to stealing the opioids and pleaded guilty to two different charges in January 2022: one count of altering a drug after it crossed state lines for sale and use and one count of distribution of a controlled substance without a written prescription.
According to court documents from 1994 through 2021, Gries worked at VCA Amherst Animal Hospital as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
The animal hospital had a supply of drugs to help with animal pain after surgeries like Dilaudid, an opioid typically known as hydromorphone.
Gries was the leading surgeon at the hospital and had complete access to their supply of pain meds, officials said.
According to the attorney’s office, Gries would draw a portion of the opioid from the vials and inject it into himself. After injecting the drug, he replaced the stolen portion with another substance, then returned the diluted drug to inventory.
United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh expressed the significance of crime in the healthcare field, especially for patients seeking care.
“When health care professionals put the well-being of others at risk, they violate the trust placed in them by the public and will be held accountable. My Office will continue to prioritize these cases throughout the Western District of Virginia,” Kavanaugh said.
The Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division, and the Virginia State Police were investigating this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet was the prosecutor.