Former head of Iowa Greyhound Association sentenced to 15 months in prison

The former head of Iowa Greyhound Association, convicted of illegally selling thousands of doses of controlled substances and misbranded prescription drugs, now is facing 15 months in prison.

Jon Stidham, 57, of McClelland, pleaded guilty in January to crimes related to the distribution of drugs for racing greyhounds. Stidham pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver, distribute or dispense methyltestosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance, by means of the internet and without a valid prescription, and one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud.

Last week, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Some of the drugs distributed by Stidham were to prevent female greyhounds from “going into heat,” prosecutors said, which allowed the dogs’ owners to continue racing them.

In a plea agreement, Stidham admitted that he operated a company called Kennel Supply, which was a brick-and-mortar business that provided a variety of items used for the operation of kennels and the care of farm animals. Through the internet, Kennel Supply also sold controlled substances and non-controlled drugs that require prescriptions.

From 2015 through 2018, Stidham sold over 300,000 doses of methyltestosterone, a controlled substance, without valid prescriptions, generating a profit of $324,303, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. During that same period, Stidham illegally distributed over 50 types of misbranded prescription drugs without a valid prescription, which allegedly generated $203,207 in profits.

Court records indicate that the scheme involved a Kansas veterinarian, identified in Stidham’s indictment only as “Dr. S,” and an unnamed relative of Stidham who acted as “co-conspirator or co-schemer.” Stidham used the Drug Enforcement Administration number and Kansas veterinary license of “Dr. S,” without the vet’s knowledge, to order drugs, prosecutors alleged.

The drugs were then shipped to “Dr. S” but at an address that had been provided by his unnamed co-conspirator, who then arranged for Stidham to pick up the drugs.

Court records indicate that as far back as 2015, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy was aware of Stidham’s conduct and had informed him that his actions were illegal. The board then provided Stidham “with instructions on how to lawfully sell these prescription drugs and controlled substances,” prosecutors allege.

Despite that, Stidham continued over the next three years to sell controlled substances and prescription drugs while failing to follow the directives of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, prosecutors allege.

Prior to his sentencing, the judge in the case received several letters of support for Stidham, including one from the mayor of McClelland, Mitchell Kay, who called Stidham “a good person with a good heart.”

Another letter of support came from Jerry Crawford, general counsel for the Iowa Greyhound Association. In his letter to the court, Crawford explained that Stidham “was deeply involved at the Iowa Legislature” in establishing a way for Iowa to phase out greyhound racing at a time when it still had two operating racetracks — one in Dubuque and one in Council Bluffs.

With Stidham’s help, Crawford said, the Iowa Greyhound Association received about $100 million to phase out racing over the course of a few years.

“Jon was one of our most influential lobbyists at the Legislature and his work helped hundreds of Iowans to support their families during the transition away from greyhound racing,” Crawford told the court.

Iowa Greyhound Association operated Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque from 2015 until earlier this year when the venue closed. In addition to being sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $527,510 in drug proceeds, Stidham has been fined $7,500. He also must serve a three-year term of supervised release after his prison sentence is completed. There is no parole in the federal system.

Stidham has been released on bond and will surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date that has yet to be set.

Last December, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission suspended Stidham’s kennel license after he failed to report he was facing federal criminal charges.