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Press Release

Head of Drug Trafficking Organization “Little DTO” Sentenced Today to 34 Years’ Imprisonment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Leon Little, 38, of Cherry Hill, NJ, was sentenced today by the Honorable Cynthia M. Rufe to 408 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release for his role as the leader of a large scale oxycodone pill conspiracy that caused nearly 400,000 oxycodone pills and other drugs to be released illegally on the streets of Philadelphia, Delaware, and elsewhere. This is the largest sentence ever received in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in a federal pill-trafficking case. Little was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was found guilty by a jury in December 2016.  

Little recruited several people to perpetrate his drug distribution scheme, including at least 55 “pseudo-patients”—individuals who posed as patients in order to acquire prescription drugs from a licensed physician in Philadelphia.  Many of these pseudo-patients were recruited from the Raymond Rosen Projects, a government-assisted housing development located in North Philadelphia.  Little provided the cash required to pay for all doctor’s appointments, the costs of filling prescriptions received from the doctor as well as forged prescriptions and payment to the pseudo-patients and drivers for their services.  Little also recruited several others to carry out the scheme: Heather Herzstein, the receptionist at the doctor’s office who arranged the office visits; Brendin Strand, a customer who purchased the drugs; and Colise Harmon, James Alexander, and John Baldwin—all drivers who recruited and transported pseudo-patients to the doctor’s office.

Once Little fraudulently acquired the drugs, he collected and stored the filled prescriptions, packaged the drugs for re-distribution, and distributed to them to his customers.  Little sold the oxycodone pills and other prescriptions drugs and profited over $3,000,000.  He used those proceeds to perpetuate the scheme; purchase vehicles, real estate and a UPS franchise; and gamble over $1 million dollars at various casinos. 

“Today, the streets of Philadelphia and our region are safer now that Leon Little will be behind bars for years to come,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “This defendant was the mastermind behind a massive scheme involving highly addictive drugs, and he lived high on the hog at the expense of other peoples’ misery.  The opioid crisis is hitting our region hard, and we are taking action.  I commend the hardworking prosecutors from my office and our law enforcement partners for putting this case together and holding this defendant accountable for the destruction he caused.”

“Little ran a prescription drug trafficking ring that was responsible for the distribution of more than 380,000 tablets of controlled substances in and around Philadelphia.  He was also responsible for recruiting numerous people from government-assisted housing developments to act as “pseudo-patients” to fraudulently obtain these prescription drugs in furtherance of his criminal activities,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.   “After being found guilty of numerous federal drug and money laundering charges, Little has received a sentence that is appropriate for drug traffickers that seek to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of our society.” 

“We continue to see the devastating effects illegal prescription drugs are having on our society,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco.  “Today’s sentencing of Leon Little demonstrates how IRS-CI, along with our federal law enforcement partners, and the Department of Justice will band together in the fight against prescription opioid abuse.”

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation Health Care Fraud Task Force, Philadelphia Police Department, and North Coventry Police Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tomika N.S. Patterson.

Updated August 15, 2018

Drug Trafficking