Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Judge Denies Dismissal on Meningitis Murder Counts
By Walter F. Roche Jr
A federal judge has flatly rejected a motion to dismiss second degree murder and related racketeering charges against two former officials of the New England Compounding Center, the drug firm blamed for a deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a ten-page ruling issued this week U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns, sitting in Boston, Mass.,concluded that federal prosecutors had provided sufficient facts and allegations for the 25 second degree murder charges to go before a jury.
"As a general matter I agree with the government that the law is reasonably well settled that the existence of a pattern of racketeering activity is a question of fact reserved for a jury trial," Stearns wrote.
Barry Cadden, part owner of NECC, and Glen Chin, NECC's chief pharmacist, were each charged with 25 counts of second degree murder.
Stearns also rejected the argument of defense lawyers that it would have made no sense for the NECC owners to engage in activities that would ultimately result in their demise.
"Criminal conduct does not always reflect the most rational of choices or even the most basic calculation of ultimate self interest," Stearns added.
"If the government allegations prove true, NECC will not be the first enterprise undone by greed or a sense of invulnerability," he continued, adding "No argument has been made that Cadden and Chin set out to strangle the golden goose."
He wrote that he expected federal prosecutors would argue that "the defendants apparent success in cutting corners and enhancing profits without getting caught led them into a self deceptive state of impregnability that fed an increasingly reckless and heedless course of conduct."
The judge noted that the indictment correctly "recites" the language of second degree murder statutes in the seven states where the charged deaths occurred. "Michigan," he wrote,"serves as the template for the others."
In a separate order Stearns rejected a request to start an inquiry to have sanctions imposed on federal prosecutors on charges they leaked grand jury information to the news media and issued inflammatory press releases.
The defendants had charged that the news media had been leaked advance notice of the indictments resulting in camera crews confronting Cadden at his South Shore home at the time of his indictment and arrest.
Though the case is now scheduled for a Fall trial, motions are pending for Cadden and Chin for a delay.