The lawyer for one of the six people on trial for their role in a deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012 says his client was on vacation during the time she was alleged to have been working in the compounding pharmacy.
Sharon Carter, a defendant in the New England Compounding Center trial, is being represented by Michael Pineault.
Joseph Connelly, a former pharmacy technician for the NECC, testified in U.S. District Court on Oct. 24 that he had spoken with Carter on May 30, 2012, about a disputed drug order. Connelly stated that Carter had met with NECC President Barry Cadden — after that, Connelly says, he was ordered to send out the untested drugs.
However, Pineault produced passport records and an automated away message from NECC’s email server showing that Carter had been our of the office — on vacation in the Dominican Republic — between May 25 (when the order was placed) and May 31 (the day after the alleged conversation with Connelly).
The emails were entered into evidence, but the passport records were not.
Connolly stated that the order to ship the untested drugs arrived the day after NECC staff members had been informed that the operation had to be “fireproofed” by quarantining drugs for two weeks so an outside lab could test for purity and potency. Connelly had also testified about his (correct) assumption that the May 30 testing order would be reversed once a rush order was placed.
Connolly replied that he did indeed speak with Carter about the order, and that his boss — cleanroom supervisor Glenn Chin, who in 2017 was cleared of second-degree murder charges but was sentenced to eight years in prison for racketeering and mail fraud — told him to send the untested order to a client in Hawaii anyway.
Former NECC pharmacy technician Owen Finnegan also took the stand, explaining that his work at the had to be done while under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist — which included three of the defendants. Finnegan testified that one of the three was supposed to review his work preparing prescriptions prior to their shipment.
Finnegan reaffirmed prior testimony from himself, Connolly, and others about the NECC’s “locker room atmosphere.” Finnegan had previously detailed how cleanroom employees would wrestle, spray each other with alcohol, horseplay on the conveyer belts meant to transport drugs, and ride around on drug carts as if they were bumper cars.
Finnegan had also stated that after a female employee complained about hostile workplace conditions, Chin told Finnegan and other workers to stop the jokes until a “paper trail” could be gathered on the female employee. Finnegan had said that Chin was given those instructions from Cadden, and also said that the atmosphere calmed down until the female employee left for good.
Finnegan further testified that he had enjoyed his work at the NECC when he first started there, but the mood changed in 2012 when more orders started coming in and the quality levels of the product went down as workers struggled to keep up with the demand. He stated that he had been in the process of looking for another job at the time the NECC was shut down in October 2012 due to the federal investigation.