a bunk bed with striped linen behind bars
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ringleader of a scheme to import large quantities of raw anabolic steroids that were then processed and packaged for redistribution throughout the U.S. has been sentenced to six years in prison, federal prosecutors said.

David M. Esser, 48, of North Attleborough, Massachusetts, arranged for the importation of steroids from international suppliers, primarily based in Hong Kong, and used the money he made to fund a luxury lifestyle and to invest in real estate and cryptocurrency, the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island announced Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty in March 2021 to charges including conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and money laundering.

In addition to the prison term, Esser must forfeit more than $400,000 he made through his criminal conduct as well as all interest in cryptocurrency that he owns, prosecutors said.

“Not only did his actions put thousands of his customers at risk, but they also reflect a breathtaking disregard for the law, both of which are appropriately answered by the significant sentence meted out by the court,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha said in a statement.

Esser was initially arrested in February 2020, but was released on bond and continued his illegal activity, leading to a second arrest, authorities said.