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A 61-year-old former Wilmington physician convicted of selling thousands of illegal oxycodone pills was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday. 

According to DOJ officials, Charles Esham issued oxycodone prescriptions "outside the course of usual professional practice and not for legitimate medical purpose" between 2015 and 2016. Of the more than 4,000 pills prescribed, many were diverted and sold. 

“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," said U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss. "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.”

A jury convicted Esham at the culmination of a week-long trial of 39 counts unlawful distribution of oxycodone. Esham was sentenced October 15, 2020, to 70 months in prison.