A doctor’s receptionist and a drug dealer team up to create an oxycodone ring and what the DEA is calling one of the most active drug corners in North Philadelphia.
28-year-old Heather Herzstein and 33-year-old Leon Little took advantage of her employer and his connections in an effort to make money.
The Oxycodone Ring
Leon Little’s part in the equation was to recruit residents of the Raymond Rosen Housing Project, which was right down the street from the doctor’s office where Herzstein worked. With the help of middleman 34-year-old Colise Harmon, Little brought fake patients into the doctor’s office to falsely report physical pain to the physician. Patients made up stories about being in a car accident and being in severe pain, or suffering from chronic pain because of a prior accident, injury, or illness. The doctors truly believed these people were in pain, so they have not been charged with any intended involvement.
When a prescription for oxycodone, generally in the form of OxyContin was written, the fake patient had it filled and picked it up at the local pharmacy and then handed the pills over to Little, most likely for a decent fee. Leon Little was then selling the acquired prescriptions to people all over Philadelphia.
Often times, as she became more comfortable with the operation, Heather Herzstein would meet with the fake patients herself, stealing the doctor’s prescription pad, and forge the doctor’s signature. If the pharmacy ever called to confirm the prescription, Herzstein could easily field the call and verify the order.
The team, who allegedly consisted of Herzstein, Harmon, and Little, plus close to 25 others, called themselves the Little Drug Operation, or the LDO. Between August of 2010 and August of 2012, the LDO made close to $3 million distributing an estimated 380,000 oxycodone pills.
Although law enforcement officials are not revealing exactly how the LDO oxycodone ring was discovered and busted, it has been confirmed that the DEA, the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, the FBI, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the North Coventry Police Department were all involved in the investigation and take down of Herzstein and the entire Little Drug Operation team.
Assistant United States Attorney, Louis Lidden spoke at the press conference that announced the bust and the subsequent arrests. Lidden says that, “It was a very sophisticated and well-orchestrated operation. These were patients who were going to go and pose in front of a doctor as someone who had been in a serious accident and needed oxycodone. With a corrupt employee in a doctor’s office, the Little operation held a kingdom. He was able to get an unlimited supply of oxycodone.”
Arrests and Criminal Charges
Herzstein, Harmon, and Little are each charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, distribution of oxycodone, and acquiring a controlled substance by fraud, which may be punishable by life in prison.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The LDO contributed to the growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction in the United States. The DEA and FDA are calling the problem an epidemic because, sadly, millions of people are no longer able to stop taking highly-addictive drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Opana, Xanax, Percocet, Norco, Adderall, Klonopin, Valium, Demerol, Codeine, or Ritalin on their own.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Help can be sought before consequences of drug abuse have occurred, and have forever changed a person’s life. Abstinence from all drugs is possible and healing begins with a willingness to change.
Balboa Horizons is ready to help you or your loved one. Our treatment team assists clients in breaking the cycle of addiction to start a new life in recovery. For more information, call now! 877.309.4593