Cherry Hill man sentenced to 34 years in prison for role in oxycodone pill conspiracy

Leon Little, 38, was sentenced in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

A Cherry Hill man was sentenced to prison on Aug. 15 for his role as head of a drug trafficking organization.

Leon Little, 38, of Cherry Hill, was sentenced to 408 months in prison and five 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 more than $3 million. He used those proceeds to perpetuate the scheme; purchase vehicles, real estate and a UPS franchise; and gambled more than $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 William 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.”

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.