SALT LAKE CITY — Another associate of a Utah man convicted of running a massive fake oxycodone pill making operation in his Cottonwood Heights home faces drug distribution charges.
Christopher Sean Kenny, 44, is charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, according to a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court. A federal judge released Kenny from jail Tuesday pending trial.
Federal prosecutors allege Kenny sold tens of thousands of fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills and alprazolam tablets that he bought from Aaron Shamo, who made them in his basement. According to court documents, Kenny came up with the idea to make the fake oxycodone pills because there was more money in them than alprazolam.
A jury convicted Shamo in August of 12 drug-related charges, including continuing a criminal enterprise. Jurors didn’t make a decision on whether Shamo sold drugs that resulted in the death of a 21-year-old California man. Shamo will be sentenced in December and faces up to life in prison.
Six others charged in the case took plea deals and testified against Shamo at his trial. One identified as a “cooperating defendant” provided investigators information about Kenny, according to the complaint.
After agents arrested Shamo in November 2016, they found an entry in the notes section of his cellphone reading, “Chris owes 95k 10/27.” Prosecutors say the reference was to Chris Kenny.
At Shamo’s trial, one defendant, Luke Paz, testified that Kenny pushed Shamo to press fake oxycodone pills because they could make a lot more money than with counterfeit alprazolam tablets. Shamo made a few batches that Kenny allegedly sold. Shamo then tweaked the formula based on feedback from Kenny’s customers, the complaint says.
A note about the pills from Kenny in another of Shamo’s cellphones said: “Ok, so these are the best so far. They smoke perfect and they snort and slide. The color being speckled won’t fly so that needs to be fixed but you already know that. My boy smoked 2 in a row and barely got high so a bit stronger is going to be a must bro. But all in all these are (expletive) close to being money in the bank man! You did it bro,” according to the complaint.
At one point, Kenny told Shamo that one of his customers overdosed and died of pills containing fentanyl, Paz testified. Kenny later told them their pills were not found to be the cause of death, the complaint says.
Paz testified that he and Shamo wanted to stop making the pills but Kenny convinced them to continue because he “had big plans,” according to the complaint.