Friday, July 29, 2016

Majority NECC Owner Pleads to Single Charge

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

The majority owner of the company blamed for a deadly nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak and her husband entered guilty pleas to vastly reduced charges today under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that will likely lead to no jail time.
Under the agreement Douglas Conigliaro of Dedham, Mass. entered a guilty plea to a single count of structuring bank transactions to avoid reporting requirements. Carla Conigliaro pled to a similar charge that she violated financial statutes when she made 11 withdrawals from a Florida bank
They had been charged originally with several counts of structuring and withdrawing some $33 million  from bank accounts that were under a court ordered freeze.
Some of the charges, however, had already been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns, the same judge who presided over today's session.
Recently Stearns ruled that prosecutors could  not present evidence about multiple bank withdrawals that the couple had made, concluding that the evidence would be "highly prejudicial  to the defendants and would serve no useful purpose."
Absent the plea agreement, the case was scheduled to go to trial on Monday. The Conigliaros had waived their right to a jury trial, contending publicity surrounding the case would make it impossible for them to get a fair jury trial.
The two are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 1 but no jail time is expected under their agreement with prosecutors.
Carla Conigliaro owned 65 per cent of the New England Compounding Center, the Framingham, Mass. firm blamed for the 2012 outbreak that sickened 778 patients across the country, killing 77 of them.
The couple was never charged with direct involvement in producing the  fungus loaded sterile drugs that caused the outbreak. Douglas, according to court records, was primarily involved in a sister company, Medical Sales Management, which sold compounded drugs from NECC to healthcare providers across the country.
Douglas Conigliaro was a licensed physician in Florida and was fined $10,000 by Florida regulators over a decade ago in a case involving a patient who was paralyzed while he was attempting to implant a pain medicine pump. A related malpractice suit against Conigliaro was settled for $1 million, according to Florida records.
 Florida health department records show his license has lapsed and he is listed as retired.
Carla and Douglas Conigliaro are two of 14 owners and former employees of NECC who were indicted in 2014 following a two year federal probe of the deadly outbreak.
Two of the remaining defendants, Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin have been charged with 25 counts of second degree murder. Other charges by the grand jury range from mail and wire fraud to racketeering. All of the remaining defendants  have entered not guilty pleas.
Victims of the outbreak only learned of the plea deal in a conference call earlier Friday with officials of the U.S. Attorneys Office in Boston.
Cadden and Chin are scheduled to go to trial Jan. 5 of next year.

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