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NECC verdict could serve as blueprint for other trials

Barry Cadden left the Moakley United States Court in Boston.
Barry Cadden left the Moakley United States Court in Boston. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

The verdict slips tell a story.

When jurors returned their decision in the trial of the former co-owner of a Framingham company that shipped tainted drugs across the country, they did more than declare guilt or innocence.

They marked their vote tallies on the verdict slip, showing the outcome of their votes, or at least the initial votes, on the charges on which they failed to convict Barry J. Cadden.

Cadden, who was also head pharmacist at New England Compounding Center, was convicted Wednesday of dozens of counts of fraud and racketeering related to a medical crisis that killed more than 60 people and sickened hundreds more. He was also convicted of conspiracy, which means jurors believed he conspired with others to carry out his crimes.

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But Cadden was acquitted of more serious charges that he caused the deaths of at least 25 of the victims of the outbreak, a verdict that essentially spares him from a life sentence. He is slated to be sentenced June 21.

It was the first in a series of criminal trials related to the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.

That split verdict — and those verdict slips — could sketch a roadmap for prosecutors and defense attorneys as they decide how to proceed in the other cases.

“You don’t always have that insight into what the jury was thinking,” said Eric Christofferson, a former federal prosecutor and now an attorney with DLA Piper.

He said in an interview the question of whether Cadden had an intentional role in the murders “was obviously the main issue that the jury was wrestling with.”

“It really gives the parties, both the government and the defense attorneys who are looking at the next round of trials, something to think about going into the next round,” Christofferson said.

The tallies show the 12 jurors were split on charges related to the deaths. While they had been asked to consider 25 deaths, and could not unanimously agree on a guilty verdict on any of them, jurors seemed more willing to say guilty to deaths that happened in certain states.

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For instance, nine of the jurors said Cadden was guilty of the three deaths that occurred in Indiana, while seven said guilty to the three deaths that occurred in Maryland.

None said guilty to the two deaths that occurred in Florida.

David Schumacher, who recently became a partner at Hooper, Lundy & Bookman after eight years as a prosecutor in the US attorney’s health care fraud unit, said the disparity shows jurors followed the case closely and listened to the judge’s instructions — they were required to follow the murder laws specific to each state, a possible explanation for the disparities in the verdict sheet.

“It shows the jury was carefully, deliberately’’ doing its job, he said.

That is likely to factor into the thinking of prosecutors in advance of the trial of Glenn A. Chin, Cadden’s former head pharmacist and the only other person charged with causing deaths. Any conviction would have to be unanimous.

“It matters because the stakes are so high,” Schumacher said.

In his trial, Cadden placed the blame for contaminated drugs on Chin, saying evidence showed Chin was the one in charge of the pharmacy, which could make him appear more culpable.

Chin’s lawyer, Stephen Weymouth, said his client might be willing to plead guilty to some charges but not murder, and he said the jury’s refusal to convict Cadden of those charges shows that prosecutors have overreached in trying to connect them to the deaths.

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Bruce Singal, an attorney for Cadden, said there is no indication the jury’s vote tallies were a final vote, noting the verdicts were announced in the courtroom and all the jurors said they agreed.

Prosecutors would not comment on the verdict sheet. The identities of the jurors are not known, and they could not be reached for comment.

Though Chin and Cadden were the only two accused of causing deaths, seven other workers at New England Compounding, including pharmacists and technicians, are slated to go to trial in the fall on charges including fraud and racketeering — the same charges Cadden was convicted of.

Two other defendants had charges dismissed, and another has pleaded guilty.

Mark Pearlstein, an attorney for one of the men awaiting trial, pharmacist Joseph M. Evanosky, said the verdict has not changed his plans to contest the charges.

“We are very confident that the government is going to be unable to establish that [Evanosky] committed any crime, period,” he said. “There’s nothing in the verdict that alters that view, which we’ve had since the inception of this case.”

But analysts said prosecutors, while disappointed the jury refused to convict Cadden on the charges related to the deaths, probably left the courthouse emboldened after the jury found that he ran a conspiracy with his pharmacists, and committed fraud.

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“I’d expect them to go full speed ahead,” Schumacher said.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia-@globe.com.