By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Citing 637,000 pages of evidence and some 1.1 million internal emails, prosecutors and the lawyer for drug compounder Glenn Chin have agreed to waive speedy trial rules in the first criminal case stemming from a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a four-page joint document filed today in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. the lawyers asked a federal judge to waive rules that could force a trial in the case in a little over two months. The motion was signed by Stephen J. Weymouth, Chin's attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan.
Chin, the one-time supervisory pharmacist for the defunct New England Compounding Center, is charged with mail fraud in the probe of a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 patients and sickened 751.
State and federal regulators have concluded that NECC caused the outbreak by distributing thousands of vials of fungus tainted steroids to health facilities around the country.
According to the filing the investigation into Chin and other officials of NECC is "ongoing."
"The United States produced initial discovery of 607,000 documents," the report states, adding that Chin's lawyer received those records between Oct. 9 and Oct. 21.
In addition prosecutors provided Weymouth with eight electronic databases including 1.1 million internal NECC emails.
"The United States is aware of its continuing duty to disclose newly discovered evidence or material," the filing states, adding that currently there are no pending discovery requests.
The report notes that a magistrate judge already has approved a protective order barring the release of those discovery materials to third parties.
Stating that the case is "sufficiently unusual and complex" to waive normal time limits, the report states, "The parties anticipate that it will take a significant period of time to review the substantial discovery in this case."
The 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak also has prompted hundreds of civil suits that have been merged before a federal judge. A hearing on those cases is scheduled for tomorrow before U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel. Dozens of new cases from New Jersey victims were recently added to the docket.
NECC was shutdown in 2012 and its owners filled for bankruptcy later that year. That case is still pending.