Home Philadelphia About Us History Famous Cases Larry Lavin and the “Yuppie Conspiracy”

Larry Lavin and the “Yuppie Conspiracy”

Larry Lavin and the “Yuppie Conspiracy”

Larry Lavin, an Ivy League-educated dentist, did not fit the image of a “drug kingpin.” However, for several years Lavin and his University of Pennsylvania dental school classmate Kenny Weidler operated a major drug enterprise. The young professionals who participated in the drug ring included five dentists, two lawyers, four stockbrokers, an airplane pilot, a high school English teacher, an elementary school principal, record company executives, accountants, a New Jersey state auditor, a psychologist, a registered nurse, and a variety of businessmen. They became known as the “Yuppie Conspiracy.”

The cocaine operation was distributing up to 110 pounds of cocaine a month in 14 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada from 1978 to late 1984. During the course of the investigation, 85 kilograms of 95 percent to 99 percent pure cocaine with a street value of $20 million, 15 cars, an airplane, a boat, four residential properties, jewelry, gold, silver, and various weapons were seized. A total of $2.2 million in cash, $528,000 of which was found buried in the ground, was also recovered.

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Lavin’s seized Virginia Beach home and boat.

Lavin had established a very sophisticated organization using a network of workers, runners, and stash houses. He hired a number of workers to assist him in distributing the cocaine and set up apartments throughout Philadelphia to break down the cocaine, process it, and make refrabricated rocks of cocaine for sale. Lavin’s workers used a beeper stem, scrambler-phones, and recording detection devices to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities.

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Lavin’s mug shot and a bestseller written about the case.

After Lavin and his associates were indicted in 1984, the investigating agents received a tip. To avoid standing for trial, Lavin was planning to jump bail and flee. Unfortunately, by the time the agents got to his Devon, Pennsylvania home with a bench warrant for his arrest, Lavin, his pregnant wife, and toddler son were gone. It would take a year and a half before Lavin was located living in an affluent Virginia Beach waterfront development under an assumed identity. He was caught, in part, due to a line in a letter written to his in-laws about how a bear served his son cake at a birthday party.

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Article outlining the fugitive search for Lavin.

On September 4, 1986, Lavin pled guilty to operating a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, tax evasion, and other charges and was sentenced to consecutive prisons terms totaling to 42 years.