Neb. pharmacy owner apologizes for selling state drugs for lethal injection
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services released records identifying its suppliers after a prolonged legal battle with local newspapers and the ACLU
By Grant Schulte
LINCOLN, Neb. — The owner of a pharmacy that provided drugs to Nebraska for use in a 2018 execution expressed remorse Thursday for making the sale, but acknowledged that he knew prison officials wanted them for a lethal injection.
Public records released late Thursday revealed that Community Pharmacy Services, in the Omaha suburb of Gretna, Nebraska, agreed to sell the drugs to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services for two payments totaling $10,500.
Community Pharmacy Services owner Kyle Janssen issued a statement minutes after state officials identified his company as their supplier, vowing never to sell to them again.
“Community Pharmacy Services has never supplied drugs since then to the Nebraska Department of Corrections or any other department of corrections, not will it ever again,” Janssen said. “I regretted the decision as it does not align with our company's values to provide the best patient care and customer service to the long-term care industry.”
Janssen said the state corrections system contracted with his company to manage its pharmacy operations from 2016 to 2018. He said during the course of the contract prison officials asked him for drugs that were later used in the August 2018 execution of Carey Dean Moore.
“The company fulfilled that order following all DEA protocols and procedures, and understood the potential use of those drugs,” Janssen said.
It's not clear if the company's contract services extended beyond 2018.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services released records identifying its suppliers after a prolonged legal battle with the Omaha World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. The newspapers and the ACLU of Nebraska sued the state after prison officials refused to release public records identifying its supplier, despite having done so in the past.
The case ended up before the Nebraska Supreme Court, which ordered the corrections department in May to release the records.
Similar legal battles have played out in Arkansas, which last year expanded the secrecy law that shields the identity of its drug supplier.
“Today is another win for open government and the ACLU was proud to be a part of the effort to shine a bright light on the source of the lethal injection drugs utilized by the state of Nebraska as it rushed to carry out an execution shrouded in secrecy from start to finish,” said Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska.
Moore's execution marked the first time that Nebraska had carried out the death penalty since 1997.
Prison officials were under pressure to carry out an execution after a political fight over capital punishment in Nebraska. State lawmakers narrowly voted to abolish the death penalty in 2015, overriding the veto of Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts during his first year in office.
Death penalty supporters responded to the vote with a petition drive, partially financed by Ricketts, which put the measure on Nebraska's 2016 general election ballot.
The proposal to keep capital punishment won support from 60% of voters in the overwhelmingly conservative state. But critics at the time argued that Nebraska wouldn't be able to carry out another execution because of the difficulty in obtaining drugs. State officials previously spent $54,000 to purchased drugs from a middleman in India who never delivered them and refused to return the money.