By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak took special pains to let a court official know how much they opposed the possible release from home detention of a man charged with 25 counts of second degree murder in connection with the outbreak.
So their anger was no surprise when they learned Saturday that a federal magistrate in Boston, Mass. had, late on a Friday, granted Barry Cadden's motion to be allowed to leave his Wrentham, Mass. home for 12 hours per day.
"My 85 year old mother is prisoner in a hospital bed. Now the man that put her there can enjoy his 'good life' again, " Kathy Pugh wrote in an email. "There is no reason for him to be out."
Pugh's mother was one of the Michigan victims of the 2012 fungal menngitis outbreak blamed on the New England Compounding Center, owned by Cadden and his in-laws.
Other victims, citing the order from Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal, said the court appeared to only be concerned with the rights of the defendant and not the victims.
Boal concluded that Cadden had strong family and community ties and thus did not pose a threat of flight before his upcoming Jan. 5, 2017 trial.
She noted that a previous order had rejected a move by federal prosecutors to have him jailed until his trial.
"The conditions of release can not be excessive in relation to their purpose," Boal wrote in the four-page order.
She noted that Cadden's $500,000 bail and electronic monitoring would remain in place.
"This for me was the last straw," wrote Jona Angst, another victim commenting on Boal's decision.
"Just victimizing the victim again."
"We are losing everything and I physically and mentally can't take anymore," she added.
Another victim noted that because of their continuing ill health many of the victims are, like Pugh's mother, still prisoners in their homes or hospitals.
Cadden was one of 14 owners or former employees of NECC indicted by a federal grand jury in late 2014 following a two year investigation of the deadly outbreak. He had remained under detention in his home sine shortly after the indictment.
Cadden and all the other defendants have entered not guilty pleas to all the charges which include mail and wire fraud in addition to the second degree murder charges against Cadden and one other defendant.
Federal officials say the now defunct NECC shipped thousands of fungus tainted vials of methylprednisolone acetate into the spines and joints of unsuspecting patients across the country. The outbreak sickened 778 patients killing 77 of them, according to the latest count.