Former Wilmington Doctor Gets 70 Months For Issuing Illegal Oxycodone Prescriptions

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews sentenced Charles Esham, a 61-year old former physician, to 70 months in prison for issuing illegal oxycodone prescriptions over a two-year period.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between 2015 and 2016, Esham issued oxycodone prescriptions that were outside the course of usual professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Many of the more than 4,000 pills covered by those prescriptions were diverted and sold. Following a week-long trial, a jury convicted Esham of 39 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone. He has been incarcerated since the completion of the trial in December 2019.

On learning of the sentence, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated, “Esham wrote oxycodone prescriptions as if he were taking orders at an ice-cream shop. He exercised almost no medical judgment or oversight when prescribing powerful opioids. In doing so, he effectively handed over his prescription pad to a drug trafficking ring and, worse, he papered his files to try to cover his tracks. Today, the Court sent a powerful message: doctors who violate their oaths and betray the trust that society places in them will answer for their crimes.”

“Medical professionals such as Dr. Esham have an ethical and legal obligation to prescribe powerful prescription painkillers such as oxycodone only for legitimate medical purposes,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “His conviction on 39 counts of drug distribution totaling over 4,000 pills of oxycodone shows his total disregard for these same obligations; Dr. Esham’s conduct was criminal.”

This case was investigated by the DEA Philadelphia Field Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher R. Howland and Dylan J. Steinberg prosecuted the case.