Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Key NECC Phone Call Disputed
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A former drug company executive on trial for second degree murder has charged that a key 2012 phone call to an Indiana pain clinic never happened despite detailed testimony from a prosecution witness.
Lawyers for Barry J. Cadden say their client never made a call to the South Bend clinic on Sept. 21, 2012 and federal prosecutors knew or should have known that the testimony of a manager at that clinic was false.
Stating that the testimony last week made Cadden look like a "cold blooded killer, Michelle Peirce, one of Cadden's lawyers, asked U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns to instruct the jury that the call to Wendy Huffman at the South Bend Clinic never happened.
In the 18-page motion, Peirce said that records subpoenaed for Cadden's defense showed that only one phone call was made from the NECC area code to the clinic on Sept. 21 and that was from a woman setting up an appointment for a girl friend.
Huffman had testified that she got a call from Cadden on Sept. 21 five days before NECC issued a voluntary recall of its spinal steroid, methylprednisolone acetate.
The filing comes as Cadden's trial is in its fourth week. He has been charged with racketeering and 25 counts of second degree murder for his role in the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, which killed some 76 patients across the country.
Cadden was part owner and president of the New England Compounding Center, the Framingham, Mass. company that shipped fungus contaminated steroids to health facilities across the country.
Calling the action by prosecutors "inexcusable," Peirce's motion states that the testimony falsely left jurors with the impression that Cadden knew there was a problem with the steroids on Sept. 21, but did nothing to warn its customers until Sept. 26, when a recall was issued. By that time several more victims had been injected with the tainted steroids.
"The government ignored - and deliberately declined to obtain a review- irrefutable evidence (telephone records) - that fully disprove Huffman's memory," the motion states.
The motion does not name the woman who did call the clinic on Sept. 21 from the 508 area code, but said, "she will confirm that neither she nor her former girl friend has any connection to Cadden, NECC or their affiliates."
The motion charges that information about the phone call was provided to the U.S. Attorney the night before Huffman's testimony, but prosecutors went ahead and presented "potentially devastating - and wrong- testimony to the jury."
The motion asks Stearns to hold a separate hearing on the issue.