Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meningitis Outbreak Prosecutor Seeks Order to Protect Probe Records

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

The U.S. Attorney prosecuting a pharmacist charged in the probe of a fatal fungal meningitis outbreak is asking a judge to order that records relating to the investigation be kept confidential.
The motion for a protective order was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
The move comes in the criminal case against Glenn Chin, 46, who worked as a pharmacist for the New England Compounding Center. Chin, a Canton, Mass. resident who has been charged with mail fraud, has entered a not guilty plea to the charge.
Under Ortiz' motion Chin's lawyers would be barred from disclosing to third parties any information about the investigation provided by prosecutors during the discovery phase of the criminal case.
Chin's lawyers, according to the filing, are not opposed to the order.
Ortiz said in the filing that disclosure of the investigation details to third parties "could jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation."
"Some of the discovery materials," the motion states, "would inform potential targets or subjects of the status and direction of the ongoing criminal investigation."
In addition Ortiz wrote that the same discovery material could reveal the identities of government witnesses.
Finally, Ortiz' motion states,  the discovery information includes specific health information on victims who received  tainted steroid injections at Michigan Pain Specialists.
The protective order proposed by Ortiz would require that once the Chin case is completed the discovery materials would have to either be destroyed or returned to the federal government.
The 2012 outbreak sickened some 751 patients. Sixty-four of them died. Michigan and Tennessee were among the hardest hit of the 20 states where victims were treated.

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