Two Key Figures of Illegal Prescription Drug Distribution Operation Found Guilty
Philadelphia - Following a three-week jury trial, a federal jury convicted two key players in a prescription drug conspiracy that illegally distributed more than 380,000 Oxycodone pills, as well as Alprazolam, into communities in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Leon Little, the head of the “Little Drug Operation” (LDO), was convicted yesterday in federal court of 50 counts, including 1 count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, 24 counts of distribution of oxycodone, 9 counts of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud, and 16 counts of money laundering, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Additionally, one of Little’s accomplices, Colise Harmon, was convicted of 34 counts, including 1 count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, 15 counts of distribution of oxycodone, and 4 counts of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud. Little faces up to 846 years’ imprisonment and Harmon faces up to 336 years’ imprisonment.
“Like the rest of the nation, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has been greatly impacted by the prescription drug abuse epidemic,” said United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. “Heroin and opiate-based prescription medication – such as oxycodone – are two of the most abused drugs in this area. And just like street drugs, prescription drug abuse produces the same problems: addiction, crime, and broken families. Today’s convictions reflect the great work of our law enforcement partners to use the criminal justice system, one of the many weapons available, to curb this epidemic.”
“The illegal diversion and sale of prescription opioids such as oxycodone has caused considerable damage to communities and the loss of numerous lives across our region,” said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “Leon Little and Colise Harmon have been convicted of running a pill distribution network responsible for distributing over 380,000 dosage units of oxycodone. For that, the penalties are severe.”
"All financial transactions leave a trail and we have the unique expertise to follow those leads" said Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. "The special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation are committed to taking the profit away from drug traffickers and putting those individuals in jail. The convictions of Leon Little and Colise Harmon should serve as a warning to those who are considering similar conduct."
Between July 2010 and August 2012, the LDO recruited and paid 55 individuals to pose as patients in order to acquire prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and alprazolam (otherwise known as Xanax), from a physician in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Many of these “pseudo-patients” were recruited from the Raymond Rosen Projects, a government-assisted housing development located in north Philadelphia. The pseudo-patients primarily received prescriptions for 10 milligram and 30 milligram tablets of oxycodone in exchange for money. The LDO also paid for the doctor’s visit and the costs for filling the prescriptions. Little also collected and stored the filled prescriptions, packaged the drugs for re-distribution, and distributed them to his customers in Philadelphia.
Harmon served as a driver for the LDO who facilitated the coordination of pseudo-patients. Little paid Harmon, along with two others to drive pseudo-patients to the doctor and to specific pharmacies in Philadelphia, PA to have the prescriptions filled, as well as to serve as pseudo-patients.
Little orchestrated the entire scheme by paying the doctor’s receptionist and sole employee to schedule the pseudo-patients’ appointments, write prescriptions for oxycodone using the doctor’s prescription pad and without the doctor’s consent, and distribute the forged prescriptions to the LDO. She also falsely verified with pharmacies that the forged prescriptions received from LDO pseudo-patients were legitimate. Little and Harmon also distributed the oxycodone pills to customers and resellers.
Based on the average retail sale price of the oxycodone tablets on the street, the LDO took in more than $3.3 million dollars. Little used the proceeds from the illegal pill scheme to purchase jewelry, designer clothes, and vehicles, including a Can-Am Spyder valued at over $17,000 and to gamble approximately $1.9 million at various casinos. Little also facilitated the laundering of $85,000 in drug proceeds in an attempt to conceal the proceeds of his drug trafficking.
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. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tomika N.S. Patterson.