Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Judge Upholds NECC Conspiracy Charges
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge in Boston, Mass. has denied a motion to dismiss conspiracy charges against several of the criminal defendants in the case against former owners and employees of the company blamed for a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
In an 11-page decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns said the indictment issued by a grand jury in late 2013 contained sufficient information to allow the defendants to attempt to rebut the charges.
The motion was filed in behalf of Barry Cadden, Gregory Conigliaro, Alla Stepanets, Sharon Carter and Robert Ronzio, all tied to the New England Compounding Center, the company blamed for the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
The challenged section of the indictment charged the defendants with engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by inducing "regulatory authorities, including the FDA, into believing that NECC was doing busines as a compounding pharmacy when in fact it was in the business of manufacturing drugs."
Stearns said that based on the law and existing precedents the government did not have to show the fraud was financial.
"Count Three clearly satisfies the pleading requirements," Stearns wrote, noting that the indictment included allegations that NECC submitted false names and made other efforts to obstruct a state investigation of their operations.
Cadden, a founder and part owner of the defunct Framingham, Mass, company is scheduled to go on trial in January along with chief pharmacist Glenn Chin. The other defendants face a March 2017 trial date.
Charges against Cadden and Chin include 25 counts of second degree murder.
The outbreak, caused by fungus laden steroids from NECC, sickened 778 patients across the country, killing 77 of them.