The top executives of New England Compounding Center are likely to be criminally prosecuted on federal charges that carry possible prison sentences, according to former prosecutors who cite the large number of people harmed, allegedly by contaminated steroids made by the Framingham pharmacy.
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, whose Boston office is known for aggressive prosecution of health care companies, acknowledged in a statement last month that she is probing New England Compounding, but has declined further comment. Agents from the US Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations were seen last month combing through the company’s Framingham offices.
“If there is a federal charge, there is probably going to be jail time” sought, said Todd Graves, a former Missouri US attorney who in 2002 prosecuted Robert Courtney, a Kansas City pharmacist on several federal counts related to diluting chemotherapy drugs for thousands of cancer patients. Courtney, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 30 years in jail.
Graves said public outrage at the time bolstered his leverage in the case, a factor he believes will give prosecutors an edge this time, too.
“There is a lot of anger and not just among those who are hurt, but anyone who looks at this situation, and judges, juries they are all affected by these types of things,” Graves said. “The wind would be at your back” as a prosecutor appealing to the jury.
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