Mom blames doctor for son's oxycodone death

Posted at 11:24 PM, May 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 01:24:45-04

A former Parker doctor, office manager and two pharmacists have been arrested and charged with illegally distributing prescription drugs that killed two patients.

Dr. John Alan Littleford, a 70-year-old osteopath, was charged in federal court with conspiring to distribute excessive quantities of narcotic medicines for at least 2½ years.

According to new search warrants, investigators now believe at least six of Dr. Littleford's patients overdosed on oxycodone.

Karen Kennedy's son, 34-year-old Joel Kennedy, is one of those patients.

"When you lose your parents you lose your past, if you lose your spouse you lose your present, but when you lose your children you lose your future," she said.

Kennedy says her life forever changed on October 2, 2012.

"I found him, he was on the couch - he had fallen forward in a seizure and basically suffocated," she said.

Kennedy said the pills became the only way her son could deal with his back pain.

"I don't know if I would term it an addiction, but a dependence," she further explained.

A former detective at the Westminster police department, Kennedy said Joel fell and injured his back while mountain biking at the Garden of the Gods in 2009.

She said they would later learn from doctors that surgery wasn't an option because it threatened his internal organs.

"They tried physical therapy, they tried acupuncture - any number of methods they tried and pretty soon it came down to you're going to have to manage, pain management," said Kennedy.

Shortly after, she said Joel started seeing Dr. Littleford at the Pain & Injury Clinic he owned in Parker.

Kennedy said once Joel lost the ability to drive she started taking him to his doctor's appointments where she raised concerns about how quickly his prescriptions were growing. 

"I was like this is so much - this is too much, but this is what the doctor prescribed," said Kennedy.

She said anytime she would question the quantities, Dr. Littleford would tell her, "It was like, well this is what he needs and oh this isn't doing it - oh well, ok I'm going to up the prescription."

By the end, Kennedy says she was giving Joel about 24 oxycodone pills a day in addition to several other sedatives.

The DEA said Dr. Littleford, his office manager and two other pharmacists are accused of giving pain killers and other drugs like Fentanyl patches to numerous patients in quantities that would lead to addiction.

The others charged are Dianna Smithling, and pharmacists Stanley Callas and Scott Eskanos. The pharmacists participated as co-owners of Crown Point Pharmacy in Parker and Sky Ridge Pharmacy in Lone Tree, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"You took my son because you prescribed too many drugs," said Kennedy. "There's not going to be grandchildren from Joel - it's done, it's over with."

Littleford is charged with two counts of distributing a controlled substance from which death results, a crime punishable by 20 years to life in prison.

He and his alleged co-conspirators face a variety of other charges, from conspiring to distribute controlled drugs to money laundering that could be punished by up to 20 years in prison.