SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A former Eagle Scout will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of running a counterfeit opioid operation that made him millions of dollars and left dozens of people dead.
Prosecutors say the fentanyl that Aaron Shamo used to make counterfeit Oxycodone pills is so lethal that federal drug agents needed hazmat suits and scuba tanks to go inside his Cottonwood Heights home during a raid in November of 2016. Inside they found a pill press, fake pills, and $1.2 million in cash stuffed in a dresser.
The then 26-year-old former Utah Valley University student was charged with running an elaborate operation to import cheap fentanyl from China, turn it into fake Oxy, and sell it on the dark web. The drugs were shipped all over the globe and are suspected of causing the overdose deaths of dozens of unsuspecting customers. On the first day of his trial last August, his mother Becky Shamo told ABC4 her son was being unfairly prosecuted.
“He’s done some bad things. We will admit to that. He’s done some bad things,” Becky Shamo said. “He does not deserve to spend his life in prison and that’s all they’ve ever wanted from day one…He’s a good kid. He’s only 29. He deserves a chance at life.”
Thursday at Shamo’s sentencing, Tova Keblish, the mother of 23-year-old Gavin Keblish who overdosed on Shamo’s products in Long Island, New York in 2016, accused Shamo of “Shipping counterfeit death pills. You shipped thousands of people their death sentence. You were making your own homemade instant death pill…You denied my son the right to live.”
The now 29-year-old Shamo told the court: “I’m deeply sorry and regret the decisions that I made. I made a fool of myself and brought embarrassment to my family that I will never be able to wash away. Now I’m going to prison and I don’t think I will ever get out… I feel terrible for everything and I’m paying the ultimate price for it.”
Prosecutors chose to charge Shamo with 13 counts, including running a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Shamo’s defense attorney Greg Skordas called the mandatory life sentence “Draconian.”
“They decided that he needed to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Skordas said. “It’s unfortunate. I think it’s unfair but it’s certainly consistent with the law.”
Shamo’s parents did not speak to the media after Thursday’s sentencing. He’s scheduled to be back in a courtroom for a restitution hearing on November 19th.