Escondido Man Sentenced to 168 months in Fentanyl Overdose Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Timothy Coughlin and Michael Kaplan (619) 546-6768/7927

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARYSeptember 1, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Kyle Anthony Shephard was sentenced in federal court today to 168 months in prison for supplying the fentanyl that led to the fatal overdose of a 25-year-old U.S. Marine corporal stationed at Camp Pendleton.

Shephard pleaded guilty in March, admitting that on the evening of January 27, 2017, he met with the Marine in Escondido and sold him four pills containing fentanyl that caused his death later that night or early the next morning. On January 28, 2017, the young man’s body was discovered on Camp Pendleton in his barracks room by fellow Marines who became concerned when he failed to respond to phone calls and knocks on his door.

The initial investigation was conducted by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents, who continued to pursue leads for almost a year while the case remained unsolved. Shephard was arrested on December 13, 2017 by members of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department while executing a search warrant at a local casino. Found in Shephard’s hotel room were 1,362 pills containing fentanyl, thousands in cash, packaging material, and four cell phones. A co-conspirator arrested earlier in the evening admitted to law enforcement that she and Shephard were aware they were dealing one of the “deadliest drugs.”

The Marine’s mother attended the sentencing and asked a friend to read her prepared statement: “On January 29, 2017, we received the dreaded knock at the door, in the middle of the night.  The Marines came to inform us that (her son) was found unresponsive in his barracks. I now suffer with PTSD, and when I hear anyone at my door, it’s a trigger and I automatically panic with my heart dropping into the ground. I cannot put into words how (her son’s) death destroyed our family. Our family is forever changed. Nothing is, or will ever be, the same. I miss (my son) with every cell and fiber of my being. The pain is unimaginable and excruciating.”

The mother said that her son “joined the Marines when he was 21 years old. He wanted to serve our country. He chose the Marines because he wanted to take the toughest and most challenging route. His desire was to join the Infantry Division to be on the front lines.”

She noted that he “had a true passion for animals. He was signed up for a trip to Africa when he finished his tour with the Marines, to protect wildlife from poachers. He was only six months away from completing his four years. After Africa he wanted to go to Veterinary School.”

At today’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Cynthia A. Bashant said, “Drug traffickers never consider the impact of their actions on families. Drug traffickers destroy lives even when it doesn’t result in death.”  Judge Bashant noted that she wished a statement like the one made by the Marine’s mother could be made at every sentencing to make it clear the devastating impact drug trafficking has on families.   

Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said: “Another young life has been lost and a family destroyed because of fentanyl. Drug dealers who know their actions could have this outcome, and yet they peddle their poison anyway, must pay a stiff price. We will continue to aggressively pursue all those up the chain of distribution in these cases to ensure justice is served.” Grossman had high praise for prosecutors Timothy Coughlin and Michael Kaplan, as well as San Diego Sheriff’s Department detectives and NCIS agents who pursued this investigation and prosecution for more than four years.

For those who suffer from addiction, please know there is help. Call the Crisis line at 888-724-7240; it’s always open.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 18cr5574-BAS

Kyle Anthony Shephard                                 Age: 29                       Escondido, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance -Fentanyl – Title 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a)(1) and 846

Maximum Penalties – Twenty years in prison,  at least four years of supervised release and $1 million fine.

INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Naval Criminal Investigative Services

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

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