Monday, July 18, 2016
Judge Rules Out Evidence on Bank Withdrawals
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Evidence of multiple withdrawals from the bank accounts of two of the defendants in the fungal meningitis criminal case would be highly prejudicial and will not be allowed in an upcoming trial, a federal judge has ruled.
In a decision issued Monday U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns ruled that prosecutors cannot present evidence about withdrawals from three separate banks by Douglas and Carla Conigliaro, two of the 14 defendants in the criminal case stemming from the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
Prosecutors had proposed to use the multiple withdrawals as evidence of a conspiracy by the couple.
They are charged with structuring some $570,000 in bank withdrawals to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements and for transferring funds in defiance of an order from a bankruptcy judge.
"The government offers no rational basis for believing that a conspiratorial agreement entered into in September of 2010 could have foreseen the onset of the fungal meningitis outbreak in September of 2012," Stearns wrote in the brief decision.
He added that presenting that evidence along with "the consequences of the outbreak with the many deaths and grave illnesses that followed would be highly prejudicial to the defendants and would serve no meaningful purpose."
Stearns previously ruled that Carla and Douglas Conigliaro will be tried separately from other defendants, including two who face charges of second degree murder. Previously Stearns denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the two.
The outbreak has been blamed on a drug compounding firm owned by the Conigliaros and Barry Cadden, who is related by marriage. The New England Compounding Center, shuttered shortly after the outbreakbecame public, shipped thousands of vials of fungus loaded steroids that were injected into the spines and joints of patients across the country.
The outbreak sickened 778 patients and killed 77 of them.