Closing arguments have been made, and now it’s up to a federal jury whether to convict the former president of the New England Compounding Center of murder.
Barry Cadden is facing 25 counts of murder for a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, which is said to have resulted from steroids compounded by NECC. His other counts include fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.
The meningitis outbreak killed 64 people and sickened over 700 others. Federal investigators have blamed contaminated drugs, made at the NECC facility, for causing the outbreak.
A federal prosecutor has asked the jury to convict Cadden on second-degree murder and other charges, arguing that he knowingly broke rules, ignored a contaminated cleanroom, and prioritized profit over safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese compared Cadden’s actions to “playing a game of Russian Roulette” by shipping out vials of drugs that had not been tested as promised.
However, Cadden’s attorney, Bruce Singal, has argued that this is a public tragedy, not murder. Singal said that federal investigators did not succeed in identifying a single act of Cadden’s that would have caused the outbreak, and said that prosecutors introduced extraneous evidence and presented testimony about victims’ deaths to play on the jurors’ emotions. Singal, furthermore, pinned the blame for the contamination on Glenn Chin, a supervisory pharmacist at NECC, and said that Chin was the one in charge of the cleanroom and therefore Chin should shoulder responsibility. Chin has been charged identically to Cadden and should be going on trial once Cadden’s case is concluded.
The NECC filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and the following year it agreed to pay $200 million to victims and creditors — this money included funds that had been seized from Cadden.
Cadden could be dealt a life sentence, depending on the jury’s verdict on the counts related to the deaths. The case was given to the jury on March 16, and deliberations began the morning of March 17. The jurors must determine if second-degree murder took place under the standards of a state where a death took place … Cadden is charged with 25 deaths across seven states.
The jurors asked U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns for clarification on the charges during their first day of deliberations, questioning whether Cadden’s actions constituted second-degree murder or negligence. Stearns replied that negligent conduct means that the individual has failed to act as a prudent person would under the circumstances; and that second-degree murder holds a higher threshold, as it means that an individual acts in a way that that he or she knows would likely cause death or serious injury. Should the jury determine that Cadden was “negligent,” it means he would not meet the requirements for one of the racketeering charges; however, additional racketeering charges would remain.
Deliberations continued on March 20.