NORTH ATTLEBORO — A local man has agreed to plead guilty to charges he headed a large-scale drug distribution ring that imported steroids from China and sold them through the mail across the United States, officials said.
David M. Esser, 47, is scheduled to enter his plea Tuesday, March 23 in U.S. District Court in Providence. He faces two counts of conspiracy to distribute steroids and one count of money laundering, according to court records.
In addition, he will forfeit 13 properties in York, Pa., a BMW, a Chevrolet Corvette and two other cars, over $160,000 in cash and a bitcoin account valued at over $265,000, according to the plea agreement.
Prosecutors say the property, cars and cash were purchased with money he earned from his illicit steroid business instead of a real estate business he purportedly ran.
Esser allegedly made at least $350,000 in two years from his steroid business, prosecutors have said.
As part of the plea, Esser must provide the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office with a truthful financial statement and identify all assets he has had control over “directly or indirectly” over the past five years.
If he pleads guilty and abides by the terms of his agreement with the government, Esser will not be charged him with additional offenses he committed from February 2015 to July 20, 2020, according to the plea agreement.
The offenses include smuggling and customs violations, selling misbranded drugs and mail and wire fraud, the agreement states.
The document is signed by Esser, his lawyer and prosecutors.
Esser was initially arrested in February 2020 with his ex-wife and two other defendants who packaged the steroids and mailed them to Esser’s customers, according to prosecutors.
While free on bail awaiting trial, he was arrested again in December for allegedly continuing to conduct his steroid distribution business with the help of a Virginia man.
Esser’s ex-wife, Alison Shepard Esser, and James McLaughlin, both of North Attleboro, and Masson Nieves of Providence, pleaded guilty last month. They are scheduled to be sentenced on April 19.
The case against the Virginia man, Michael S. Lambert, is pending in federal court.
When David Esser was arrested in February 2020, authorities seized his properties, banks accounts, bitcoin account and cars in addition to over 80 kilograms of steroids in a safe house, according to court records.
He had addresses on Fisher Avenue, Oakhurst Street and an apartment on North Washington Street, which was used at one time as a safe house, according to authorities.
He has been held in federal custody since his arrest in December.
According to the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a prison term within in a guideline range to be determined by the court.
Steroid distribution carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.
Because Esser allegedly continued to sell steroids after he was charged, he faces a consecutive sentence of up to 10 years on the second count, according to the plea agreement.
The money laundering charge carries a maximum of 20 years.