Doctor Dealer

Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire by Mark Bowden.  This is the story of Larry Lavin, a guy from a working-class family who won a scholarship to a prestigious Philadelphia boarding school, went on to earn Ivy League college and dental degrees.  A boy who became a man and was destined to enjoy a comfortable life and all that goes with it.  But in true American fashion, greed and bravado wiped it all away.  

You see, when Larry went off to college, he started to sell marijuana.  Initially to provide a reliable supply for himself and his friends.  But the chance to make some extra cash for school got selling to others.  And when he made $10,000 dollars he was getting out.  Wow, that was easy, lets stay in to $20,000…$50,000…$100,000.  It just got too easy with the cash pouring in and it all going so well.  But on the way to $100K one of his buddies got busted driving back from Florida with a shipment.  Time to get out?  Heck no, time to make back what he lost!  It took a bit, but the bust proved to be a minor setback when you've got a large network, cash and good lawyers.

Larry had the opportunity to expand into cocaine while dealing weed, but opted to stay out of it.  But after the bust and a growing demand for coke, it all made sense.  Higher profit margins, lets physical material to handle as opposed to hundreds of pounds of weed with an aroma that's hard to mask in those quantities.

And much like his weed business, he's only going to stay in it until he makes the next big cash milestone.  But as it all comes so easily, Larry keeps going.  Even with his new wife begging him to stop.  But who is Larry Lavin? The upper middle-class dentist who is well educated and seemed to have had a few investments fall his way.  He's just a regular guy.  But in his secret business life, the product volume is staggering and the income just as absurd.  Before long Larry's running a $60 million dollar a year cocaine empire.  Eventually his network is so large that the Feds start to notice.

But Larry is smart and has distanced himself from the day to day operations.  After beginning to pickup some heat and relenting to his wife, Larry's ready to get out of the business.  He becomes just the financier and sells the business to a couple of his guys.  But the Feds are on this trail now and all of the legal and business moves are beginning to be peeled away and Larry is about to fall.  But he's a step ahead and flees with his wife and young family.

Living under assumed names they begin to rebuild their lives in Virginia, away from the heat of the Feds back in Philly.  The network is falling apart and people are getting busted.  But the trail to Larry is cold, he's vanished.  And would stay so for about a year-and-a-half.  But Larry's bravado and believe that his close friends and associates would never give him up.  He's staying in contact with people back in Philly.  But eventually when the reality of the amount of time one of his close friends is facing back in Philly they let the Feds run a wiretap on their phone.  Larry is soon in custody and on his way to prison for a very long time.  In the end, a 42 year sentence.

This book was a very good read.  It moved along and the story is compelling in that everything seems to be going so well.  And it is, at least until it isn't and Larry's whole life unravels.
December 18, 2010 @ 11:40 pm | Category:
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