A top leader of the illegal steroid ring that operated in Southwest Louisiana found out his fate today. Jordan Berza is only 26 years old-- owns a business, has an engineering degree, a wife and baby on the way. But because of his illegal dealing in steroids he'll spend the next two years in federal prison.
Berza became choked up as he addressed Judge Patricia Minaldi-- acknowledging that he would pay dearly for his activities as a leader in a conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and launder money. Judge Minaldi sentenced him to two years in federal prison and a $12,000 fine. Defense attorney Todd Clemons says she could have gone a lot higher. Though Clemons admits Berza will still pay a high price. "I think it's unfortunate he's going to miss the birth of his first child and his mother is really, really ill and is in hospice care now."
Berza and another defendant, Chris Gass, own Planet Nutrition Stores-- which federal prosecutors say was a distribution point for anabolic steroids. Prosecutor Collin Sims says the young men smuggled steroids in various forms into the U.S. From china and elsewhere. "Steroid powder was converted into injectable form, bottled and sold in Louisiana and Texas. He was the predominant leader organizer of a group of individuals, based out of the Lake Charles, Louisiana area who were responsible for manufacturing, possessing and distributing over 7000 vials of anabolic steroids, predominantly in Louisiana and parts of Texas."
And he says the use of anabolic steroids poses serious health risks."There are many long lasting health effects. Enlarged heart, high blood pressure, organ failure, kidneys, liver problems. It's irreversible often times."
Clemons believes Berza has learned from his mistakes. "I think he's a true American success story. He got a scholarship to McNeese, a football scholarship, he has an engineering degree, He's only 26 years old. He owns two stores that are very, very profitable, doing very, very well. So, he's going to land on his feet."
Berza must report for federal prison on December 10th. A couple of weeks ago 10 other defendants were sentenced. Their punishments ranged from probation to two years.
Judge Minaldi says the case is a tragedy-- young men throwing away major accomplishments due to greed--and they'll always have a felony on their records.
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The following is a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office this afternoon
LAKE CHARLES LEADER OF STEROID DRUG TRAFFICKING
ORGANIZATION SENTENCED IN FEDERAL COURT
Lake Charles, La.: Jordan Blake Berza was sentenced for his involvement in a large scale conspiracy to possess and distribute anabolic steroids in the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Texas and Louisiana. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi in federal court in Lake Charles, La.
Berza, 26, of Lake Charles, La., was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years supervised release. The judge also ordered Berza to pay a $12,000.00 fine. In lieu of the seizure of property that was purchased with drug money, the defendant will pay a lump sum of $15,000.00 to the government which is in addition to the $12,000.00 fine. Ten defendants have previously been sentenced (listed on pages 2 and 3), with the remaining defendant, Ronald Lee Bert Fontenot, 23, of Eunice, La., scheduled for sentencing on December 1, 2011.
According to court testimony, Berza was the leader of the drug trafficking organization which was responsible for receiving several hundred ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of anabolic steroids, numerous packages of anabolic steroid cream, and approximately 35 kilograms of raw steroid powder which was shipped from China and Germany.
Once the internationally shipped packages of anabolic steroid powder were received by members of the organization, the powder was then converted into an injectable form,bottled, labeled for distribution, and sold. The organization sold the steroids to individuals located in the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Louisiana and Texas. In total, approximately 7,000 ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of steroids were manufactured, possessed, and distributed by the group. More than 600 ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of steroids were seized from the defendants through undercover purchases, traffic stops and search warrants. Agents also seized hundreds of empty vials, caps, syringes, three clandestine laboratories, and approximately one kilogram of raw steroid powder.
Approximately $93,000.00 was seized from members of the organization, the majority of which came from bank seizures on accounts belonging to Jordan Berza and Christopher Gass, to include $13,000.00 in cash seized from the residence of Berza. Berza was the co-owner of Planet Nutrition in Lake Charles with co-defendant Christopher Gass.
The business was utilized as a distribution point for the anabolic steroids. Berza also delivered and mailed steroids to many of his distributors. All monies seized by law enforcement from Berza's residence and financial accounts registered to Berza and Gassrepresent drug proceeds from the sale of anabolic steroids.
U. S. Attorney Stephanie Finley stated, "The type of steroids being trafficked in this case were dangerous. None of these defendants knew what was in the substances they were getting. Greed drove them to illegally import and sell steroids from China and Germany to anyone who would pay their price. Illegal steroid trafficking has some consequences, and our office will continue to prosecute those who participate in this type of illegal activity."
The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, U. S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Louisiana State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant UnitedStates Attorney J. Collin Sims.Defendant Date Sentenced Sentencing Details
Bryce Thomas Meaux 10/14/11 Two years in prison, a fine in the amount of $3,000.00 and three years supervised release.
Christopher Keith Gass 10/14/11 18 months in prison, a fine in the amount of $2,000.00 and three years supervised release.
Blake Meche 10/14/11 12 months, 1 day and three years supervised release.
Canien Lee Matte 10/14/11 Six months in prison, a fine in the amount of $5,000.00 and three years supervised release.
Terry Duane Kuykendall 10/14/11 Six months in prison and three years supervised release.
Tyler Jordan Kuykendall 10/14/11 Two years probation.
Daniel Kent Bosely 10/05/11 Three years of probation, a fine in the amount of $1,200.00 and 200 hours of community service.
Troy Newton Broussard 10/14/11 Six months in prison and three years supervised release.
Shane Patrick Hinton 10/14/11 Six months in prison, a fine in the amount of $2,000.00 and three years supervised release.
Shayne Keith Weekly 10/14/11 Six months in prison and three years supervised release.
Ronald Lee Bert Fontenot Scheduled for sentencing on December 1, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.
A new veterans memorial is in the works for the town of DeQuincy.
A new veterans memorial is in the works for the town of DeQuincy.