Glenn Chin, the supervisory pharmacist at what was the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, is set to go to trial on Tuesday for the part he played in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that resulted in 76 deaths and hundreds of sick patients.
If convicted on all counts of second-degree murder under federal racketeering law, Chin will spend the rest of his life in prison, ABC News reports.
Chin’s defense attorney says that prosecutors have a stronger case against the pharmacist than against Barry Cadden, the co-founder of the company. Cadden was sentenced to nine years in jail last June, after he was acquitted of second-degree murder charges but convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges.
Chin was in charge of the “clean rooms” where steroid injections were made, and stands accused of neglecting to properly sterilize the drugs. He also faces charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and others.
Stephen Weymouth, Chin’s lawyer, said,
I’m just a little concerned that the judge and the jury might be a little more harsh on Glenn Chin because he was doing the work in the clean room.
Throughout the entire trial, Cadden’s lawyers had pushed the blame on Chin. In turn, Chin pointed to Cadden.
Weymouth’s argument is that Chin was a “puppet” for Cadden, who made the working conditions so difficult that “mistakes might have been made.” Cadden called the shots and pushed orders for profit, Weymouth added. “I think the government would agree with me that the more culpable of these two parties was actually Barry Cadden.” Chin merely “did whatever Cadden told him to do.”
Over 700 people in 20 states fell ill in the outbreak, considered the worst public health crisis in recent American history. The CDC reported 64 deaths in 2013, but federal officials identified more victims, raising the death toll to 76.
Victims and family members heavily criticized Cadden’s nine-year sentence as inadequate. Cadden and Chin’s attorneys, on the other hand, stood their ground that prosecutors overreached by adding murder charges, as the men did not intend to harm anyone.