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Press Release

Former MercyOne Nurse Sentenced for Conspiracy to Acquire Controlled Substances and Possession of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

Douglas Kelley, 67, from Sioux City, Iowa, and former MercyOne nurse was sentenced on January 18, 2024, to over 10 years in prison for Possession of Child Pornography and Conspiracy to Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud.

Kenneth Hurd, 32, from Harrisburg, South Dakota, was sentenced on January 3, 2024, to two years’ probation for Conspiracy to Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud.

Brian Gene Raff, 44, from Orchard, Nebraska pled guilty in federal court on November 29, 2023, to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance.  Raff remains free on bond pending sentencing.

Evidence at Hurd’s and Kelley’s sentencing hearing’s established that Kelley knowingly conspired with co-defendants to obtain and acquire fentanyl by means of misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge.  The trio used Kelley’s position as a nurse at MercyOne Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, to obtain fentanyl and other controlled substances for personal use and to illegally distribute to others.  Raff further admitted that he conspired with his co-defendants to distribute his minor child’s prescription ADHD medication, Vyvanse (amphetamine), a Schedule II Controlled Substance.

During the investigation, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Kelley’s cell phone and recovered six videos and 20 images of child pornography.  These videos and images included material that depicted prepubescent minors or minors who had not attained 12 years of age.  The materials also portrayed sadistic and masochistic conduct, as well as toddlers and bestiality.  Kelley had previously been convicted of offenses relating to the possession of child pornography in Buena Vista County, Iowa in 1993. 

“By using his position as a nurse, Kelley violated the public’s trust while stealing controlled substances for himself and others.  He also possessed child pornography, allowing for the heartbreaking victimization of children and their sexual exploitation.  The sentencing of Kelley in this matter sends a strong and powerful message that those who violate the law will be held accountable,” said Curt L. Muller, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “We will continue working with our State, Federal, and Tribal law enforcement partners as we investigate and seek justice against those who would victimize our programs and their beneficiaries.”

Kelley was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand to 126 months’ imprisonment.  He must pay $1,200 in fines and assessments and serve a 5-year term of supervised release upon release from custody.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Hurd was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand to two years’ probation.  He was also ordered to obtain mental health and substance abuse evaluations and comply with any recommended treatment.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit  For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab “resources.”

The case was investigated by the Iowa Division of Inspections & Appeals, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Sioux City Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kraig R. Hamit. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 23-CR-4022.

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Updated January 23, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs