Saturday, June 3, 2017
Prosecutors Oppose FDA Civil Testimony on NECC
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Warning that there is "too much at stake," federal prosecutors are asking a federal judge to block Tennessee health clinics from questioning investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who probed the company blamed for a deadly outbreak.
In a seven-page filing this week, the U.S. Attorney in Boston, Mass. warned that the requested depositions could jeopardize ongoing criminal trials of the remaining defendants charged in the aftermath of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In fact, according to the filing, FDA investigators "are still investigating issues related to this case that could affect other defendants."
The filing was in response to "a request for clarification," filed by the attorneys for two Tennessee health clinics being sued for their roles in the outbreak. The clinics contend that to prepare their defense they need the testimony of the FDA and others including Barry Cadden, the part owner of the New England Compounding Center, who has already been convicted on 57 felony counts.
Cadden already has filed a motion against the clinic's move to depose him as has Robert Ronzio, a former NECC sales executive who has pleaded guilty on a related charge and delivered key prosecution testimony during Cadden's 10 week trial.
In their filing federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Senior Judge Rya Zobel to also bar the Tennessee clinics from deposing John Connolly, another key prosecution witness in the Cadden trial, and John Notorianni, who worked for Medical Sales Management, NECC's sales arm.
As the government filing notes, Cadden has asked for acquittal or a new trial and faces sentencing on June 26.
Codefendant Glenn Chin is scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 19 and the remaining defendants will be tried when the Chin case is completed.
The government filing also notes that a mediation session is scheduled in the cases against the Tennessee clinics in Oak Ridge and Crossville that could resolve the matter.
"The government again asserts that these depositions should not proceed until resolution of all of the trials in the criminal case," the filing states, adding that at least eight more defendants are awaiting trial.
The 2012 outbreak was caused by fungus laden steroids shipped by NECC to health providers in some 20 states.