U.S. District Court Providence

U.S. District Court in Providence.

PROVIDENCE — Three defendants pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to participating in a large-scale steroid distribution ring allegedly headed by a North Attleboro man.

The defendants, Alison Shepard Esser and James McLaughlin of North Attleboro and Mason A. Nieves of Providence, are scheduled to be sentenced April 19 in U.S. District Court in Providence.

They pleaded guilty before Chief Judge John J. McConnell Jr. in separate video hearings to charges of conspiracy to distribute steroids, according to court records.

The maximum penalty for the charge is 10 years in prison but prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence at or below federal sentencing guidelines.

The defendants were arrested a year ago this month by federal agents along with Shepard Esser’s former husband, David Esser.

Prosecutors allege David Esser, 47, imported steroids from Hong Kong and distributed them by mail throughout the United States with the help of his co-defendants.

He was arrested again on Dec. 11 allegedly for continuing to conduct his steroid operation while free on bond, with the help of a Virginia man.

David Esser remains in custody and his cases are still pending.

The defendants admitted to conspiring with him to distribute steroids from Jan. 1, 2018 to Feb. 19, 2020, when they were arrested, according to court records.

Under the agreements, the defendants agree to cooperate with the government and testify in any legal proceedings in the case.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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