Pill drug ring tied to NE pharmacy

A Castor Gar­dens phar­macy was one of the main sup­pli­ers for a pre­scrip­tion drug deal­er who il­leg­ally sold more than 380,000 oxy­codone pills in Phil­adelphia and sur­round­ing com­munit­ies, fed­er­al au­thor­it­ies said last week.

North­east Phar­macy, at 6730 Bustleton Ave., was not im­plic­ated in the scheme, but it was one of three primary phar­ma­cies where Le­on Little, 33, of Cherry Hill, and dozens of ac­com­plices ac­quired meds with bogus pre­scrip­tions.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice re­leased a 35-count in­dict­ment against Little, along with Col­ise Har­mon, 34, of Phil­adelphia, and Heath­er Hertz­stein, 28, of Fol­croft.

Ac­cord­ing to the char­ging doc­u­ment, between Au­gust 2010 and Au­gust 2012, Little and his ac­com­plices re­cruited and paid dozens of people to pose as pa­tients of a spe­cif­ic Phil­adelphia doc­tor in or­der to ob­tain pre­scrip­tions from him. As the ringlead­er, Little al­legedly did most of the pa­tient re­cruit­ing at the Ray­mond Rosen Pro­jects pub­lic hous­ing com­plex in North Philly.

Hertz­stein, as the re­cep­tion­ist in the doc­tor’s of­fice, was in on the scheme and handled the schedul­ing of doc­tor vis­its for the “pseudo-pa­tients,” au­thor­it­ies said. She also used the doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion pad to forge pre­scrip­tions and was in con­tact with phar­ma­cies to veri­fy that the bogus pre­scrip­tions were le­git­im­ate.

Au­thor­it­ies did not identi­fy the phys­i­cian by name or ad­dress. The phys­i­cian has not been ac­cused of wrong­do­ing. 

Har­mon al­legedly drove bogus pa­tients to vari­ous phar­ma­cies to fill their pre­scrip­tions. The oth­er com­monly used phar­ma­cies in­cluded Phar­macy of Amer­ica at 1500 E. Erie Ave. and Philly Phar­macy at 210 Mar­ket St.

Little al­legedly paid both wo­men with pro­ceeds from the op­er­a­tion. Au­thor­it­ies es­tim­ate that the op­er­a­tion raked in more than $3 mil­lion through il­li­cit drug sales.

In a sep­ar­ate in­dict­ment, the U.S. At­tor­ney charged Ami­nah Shabazz, 36, of Cherry Hill, with two counts of money laun­der­ing and one count of aid­ing and abet­ting. Little al­legedly gave about $27,000 in drug pro­ceeds to Shabazz, who al­legedly used a third party to de­pos­it the cash in­to a bank ac­count and ob­tain a cer­ti­fied check in the same amount. Shabazz then de­pos­ited the check in­to the ac­count of a com­pany con­trolled by him and Little, au­thor­it­ies said.

Little, Hertz­stein and Har­mon would face life in pris­on if con­victed. Shabazz would face 33 to 41 months in pris­on. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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