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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Murder Charges for Meningitis Outbreak

BOSTON (CN) - Federal prosecutors Wednesday accused the owner of the New England Compounding Center with 25 acts of second-degree murder for the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.

The 131-count criminal indictment accuses the center's owner and head pharmacist Barry J. Cadden and its supervisory pharmacist Glenn A. Chinn with second-degree murder in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Sixty-four patients died in nine states from contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) made by the Framingham, Mass.-based compounding center, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they filed the murder charges under the RICO Act, which does not require specific intent, but merely "extreme indifference to human life."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 751 patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of NECC's MPA.

Twelve other people, all associated with NECC, including six other pharmacists, the director of operations, the national sales director, an unlicensed pharmacy technician, two of NECC's owners, and one other person were charged with additional crimes including racketeering, mail fraud, conspiracy, contempt, structuring, and violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

"These employees knew they were producing their medication in an unsafe manner and in insanitary conditions, and authorized it to be shipped out anyway, with fatal results," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

The indictment also charges Carla Conigliaro, the majority shareholder of NECC, and her husband Douglas Conigliaro with transferring assets after the fungal meningitis outbreak.

"Specifically, the indictment charges that after NECC declared bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy court ordered the shareholders not to transfer assets, Carla and Doug Conigliaro transferred approximately $33.3 million to eight different bank accounts opened after the NECC bankruptcy," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Cadden and Chin could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of all the charges against them.

Fourteen people were charged:

Barry J. Cadden, 48, of Wrentham, Mass.;

Glenn A. Chin, 46, of Canton, Mass.;

Gene Svirskiy, 33, of Ashland, Mass.;

Christopher M. Leary, 30, of Shrewsbury, Mass.;

Joseph M. Evanosky, 42, of Westford, Mass.;

Scott M. Connolly, 42, of East Greenwich, R.I.;

Sharon P. Carter, 50, of Hopkinton, Mass.;

Alla V. Stepanets, 34, of Framingham, Mass.;

Gregory A. Conigliaro, 49, of Southborough, Mass.;

Robert A. Ronzio, 40, of North Providence, R.I.:

Kathy Chin, 42, of Canton, Mass.;

Michelle Thomas, 31 of Cumberland, R.I.;

Carla Conigliaro, 51, of Dedham, Mass.;

and Douglas A. Conigliaro, 53, of Dedham, Mass.

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