Amherst County Veterinarian Sentenced for Opioid Theft
LYNCHBURG, Va. – A former veterinarian, who admitted to stealing opioids, was sentenced today to eight months in federal prison.
Patrick Gries, 54, of Madison Heights, Virginia, pleaded guilty in January 2022 to one count of adulteration of a drug held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce and one count of distribution of a controlled substance without a written prescription.
According to court documents, from 1994 through 2021, Gries practiced as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at VCA Amherst Animal Hospital in Amherst County, Virginia. The animal hospital maintained supplies of Dilaudid, an opioid generically known as hydromorphone, primarily for use in treating pain in animal patients following surgeries.
As the hospital’s primary surgeon, Gries had full access to the hospital’s supply of hydromorphone and began withdrawing a portion of the highly addictive drug from the vials and injecting it into himself. He would replace the stolen hydromorphone with another substance, usually either saline or butorphanol and then return the altered narcotic back to the hospital inventory.
The Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington Division, Diversion Group, the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Virginia State Police investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet prosecuted the case.