A federal magistrate judge placed two high-ranking New England Compounding Center officials on house arrest Friday and banned them from working in the pharmaceutical industry while they await trial on a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges the two played major roles in a fatal meningitis outbreak caused by tainted medicines from their Framingham company.
Barry J. Cadden, 48, was co-owner of the center and its head pharmacist, while Glenn A. Chin, 46, was its supervisory pharmacist. They face charges that include allegations that they were responsible, because of the company’s production of the deadly medicines, for 25 acts of second-degree murder in seven states.
The outbreak has been tied to the deaths of 64 patients and illnesses in about 700 patients across 20 states.
The two men, along with a dozen others charged in the case, have pleaded not guilty.
“It’s a terrible tragedy, and there’s nobody who cannot sympathize greatly with the people who have lost loved ones and have become sick,” said Cadden’s lawyer, Bruce Singal, whose client maintains his innocence. “Every tragedy, every accident does not involve a federal crime.”
Chin’s lawyer, Stephen J. Weymouth, said the second-degree murder charges were an overreach because his client did not act with malice.
“If there was something going on, then it was really more wanton and willful and negligent, as opposed to an intentional act committed with malice, which is what you really need for murder,” said Weymouth. “I have no evidence, and the government doesn’t either, to believe that anyone knew there was meningitis in that stuff when it was shipped out.”
US Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal released Chin on $50,000 unsecured bond, banned him from working as a pharmacist, and placed him under house arrest, except for approved activities including court or medical appointments and family business. He was prohibited from contacting victims and witnesses, including former co-workers, and was prohibited from discussing the case with his wife.
Boal had earlier rejected the request from US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office that Chin be held without bail, saying she did not believe that he was a flight risk because of his “strong ties to the community, his conduct during the pendency of the investigation, his lack of a criminal record, and his compliance with his conditions of release to date.”
Boal said “that the government has failed to meet its burden to show that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure his appearance as required and the safety of the community.”
Chin, a Canton resident, appeared calm during the hearing in US District Court, where Boal laid out the rules that he will have to live under for the next several months. While he stood near Cadden, the two men did not appear to interact.
Boal ordered Cadden — whom an FBI agent testified Thursday had earned $62 million over three years — released on a $500,000 secured bond. Cadden, who has homes in Wrentham and Rhode Island, was placed under house arrest in Wrentham, with the same exceptions that were given to Chin.
Boal also barred him from working in the pharmaceutical industry, banned him from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, required him to undergo drug tests, and warned him that he could be ordered to enter substance abuse treatment programs in the future. The judge did not explain the substance-related stipulations, and Cadden’s attorney declined to comment on them.
Both Chin and Cadden left without commenting.