News and Press Releases

Members of Upstate Oxytocin Conspiracy Plead Guilty

March 5, 2013

Contact Person: Bill Watkins (864) 282-2100

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that Steven Michael Rhodes, age 33, and Heather DeYoung, age 28, both of Duncan, South Carolina, pled guilty in federal court in Anderson, to conspiracy to distribute oxytocin, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 846. Senior United States District Judge G. Ross Anderson, Jr. of Anderson accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Rhodes worked with Joshua Balkind, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy, in making fraudulent prescriptions for the drug roxicodone. Balkind and Rhodes used various individuals to go into pharmacies in the upstate of South Carolina and in North Carolina to pass the counterfeit prescriptions. Rhodes and Balkind would pay the prescription passer with a small quantity of pills for passing the prescription. Rhodes and Balkind would then sell and/or use the remaining pills received from the runner. Heather DeYoung worked for the conspiracy as a passer of the fraudulent prescriptions. In May 2011 in Union, South Carolina, DeYoung attempted to pass a counterfeit prescription, but the pharmacist recognized that the prescription was a fake. The physician who had allegedly written the prescription had been dead for several years. The pharmacist called the Union County Sheriff’s Office and they arrested DeYoung at the pharmacy.

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty Rhodes and DeYoung can receive is a fine of $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment for 20 years, plus a special assessment of $100.

The case was investigated by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.


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