Wednesday, November 16, 2016

NECC Judge Upholds Dismissals

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

The judge presiding over the criminal cases stemming from a deadly meningitis outbreak has flatly rejected an appeal by prosecutors to reverse his dismissal of charges against three defendants.
U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns concluded that the reconsideration motion "for the most part raises no new issues. It merely elaborates on arguments that it previously made."
Stearns said that despite the arguments by the U.S. Attorney, the charges against Alla Stepanets, Kathy S. Chin and Michelle Thomas did not meet the requirements of federal law.
In his original ruling Stearns, who presides in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass., dismissed the charges against the three licensed pharmacists because he said they were merely checking outgoing orders and not legally dispensing prescription drugs.
"There is nothing about this clerical task (as alleged) that calls upon the professional judgment of a pharmacist," Stearns wrote.
The three were among 14 people indicted in late 2014 following a federal grand jury probe of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak caused by fungus laden steroids shipped from a now defunct Framingham, Mass. drug company, the New England Compounding Center
Calling one of the arguments by prosecutors "the latest red herring," Stearns scoffed at the idea that his decision could endanger the public health.
"This of course is not true," he concluded.
He also rejected what he described as the only new prosecution argument, that the three should have known something illegal was going on because some of the names on the prescriptions were clearly false.
"This is a dubious proposition," Stearns wrote."As the law has long made clear, mere presence at the scene of a crime, even when coupled with knowledge that a crime is being committed by others, is not sufficient to establish aiding and abetting."
Though all charges against Chin and Thomas were dismissed, Stepanets still faces trial on charges of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
Chin is the wife of Glenn Chin, who was indicted on 25 counts of second degree murder in the same case. Glenn Chin and Barry Cadden, a former part owner of NECC who faces the same second degree murder charges, are scheduled for trial early next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment