Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Dispute Could Delay NECC Criminal Trials
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A dispute between federal prosecutors and defense attorneys over hundreds of records seized from a defunct Massachusetts drug compounding firm could result in a delay in a scheduled criminal trial.
The dispute involves some 630 emails spread over 2.5 million pages which were seized by federal agents more than three years ago during a raid on the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
Stephen Weymouth, the attorney for Glenn Chin, the former top pharmacist for NECC, said the dispute arose when prosecutors disclosed that they would not have time to completely review the 630 emails before the scheduled April 4 trial date. Instead, he said, prosecutors agreed not to use any of those documents at trial.
In criminal cases so-called filter teams, not connected with the investigation, review seized internal documents to determine whether they contain any privileged information, such as communications between defendants and their lawyers. Prosecutors would then be barred from using the privileged material.
Weymouth said that the agreement not to use the documents was not adequate because those same emails may include so-called exculpatory evidence favorable to defendants.
As an example, he said, there could be emails in which a defendant raised concerns about the quality of work from an independent company that was supposed to be testing NECC's products.
The dispute over the emails is scheduled to be aired at a Jan. 21 hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns.
Federal prosecutors did not respond to a request for comment.
"I don't know what the court is going to do," Weymouth said, adding that the dispute arose over the past four or five weeks.
Chin and NECC founder Barry Cadden are facing multiple charges including 25 counts of second degree murder.
Cadden, Chin and 12 other former owners and employees of NECC were named in a 2014 131-count indictment with charges ranging from second degree murder to racketeering and mail and wire fraud.
Cadden and Chin will be tried separately as will Douglas and Carla Conigliaro, who were part owners of the company.
All of the defendants have entered not guilty pleas.
NECC has been named as the source of fungus laden steroids that were shipped to medical facilities across the country. The outbreak sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.