Native physician sentenced to jail for supplying oxycodone to drug ring
Here are some of the top stories we’re following for Thursday, October 15, 2020.
A former Delaware doctor will spend five years and 10 months in prison for supplying a drug ring with oxycodone prescriptions.
Charles Esham, 61, was sentenced on Thursday after being found guilty by a federal jury of 39 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone in December 2019.
After the sentencing, U.S. Attorney David Weiss said that Esham wrote prescriptions “as if he were taking orders at an ice cream shop.”
Charles Esham captured on video by a confidential government informant. (Photo: DELAWARE DISTRICT COURT EXHIBIT)
Prosecutors said Esham had an agreement with one of his patients, Lawrence Brinkley, in which Brinkley would refer “pseudo-patients” to Esham’s medical practice for oxycodone prescriptions.
“Defendant abandoned his role as a physician and effectively handed his prescription pad over to a drug trafficking ring,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Howland in a memo to the judge before sentencing.
Esham would receive $100 cash per visit while Brinkley and the fake patients would sell the resulting oxycodone and split the profits.
OTHER CASE:In revealing $2.4 million seizure, feds call Trolley Square clinic a ‘pill mill’
State records for Esham’s now expired medical license indicate he operated out of an office in Brandywine Hundred.
Through the use of paid cooperators and witnesses that were separately charged, prosecutors showed that Esham would write prescriptions without proper examinations, without proper documentation, failed to verify the patients were actually taking the pills and increased the strength and dosage with no medical records explaining the change.
In one case, Esham wrote five oxycodone prescriptions for a patient he had never seen, prosecutors said.
FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, oxycodone pills are displayed in New York. (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)
They added that evidence at trial “demonstrated clearly and unequivocally” that Esham knew he was not practicing medicine while doing business with those brought to him by Brinkley.
Two such patients were informants for federal drug authorities and recorded their visits with Esham.
ESHAM INDICTED: Wilmington doctor charged with prescribing more than 7,000 oxycodone pills
In one visit, shortly after Brinkley had been arrested, Esham asks the patient if Brinkley’s arrest had to do “with drugs.” The informant told Esham he was picking up where Brinkley left off and gave the doctor $2,500 in cash after he wrote prescriptions for the patient and two others, according to court documents.
Later, Esham lied to federal agents about the visit. Prosecutors said the scheme carried on from 2012 to 2016 and saw several thousand addictive oxycodone pills prescribed illegally.
Prosecutors had sought more than nine years in prison for Esham.
Three men who were part of the drug ring, Brinkley, Robert Ingram and Charles Sweet, were indicted separately and each pleaded guilty to drug charges.
Brinkley was sentenced to just more than three years in prison. Ingram and Sweet were sentenced to time served and are listed as sworn witnesses that testified at Esham’s trial, according to court documents.
Contact Xerxes Wilson at (302) 324-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Ber_Xerxes on Twitter.
Read or Share this story: https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2020/10/15/local-doctor-sentenced-prison-supplying-oxycodone-drug-ring/3575610001/