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Pharmacist in NECC meningitis outbreak case acquitted of murder

Glenn Chin.
Glenn Chin.AP/File

The supervisor of a former Framingham compounding pharmacy was acquitted Wednesday by a federal jury of murder charges but convicted of racketeering and other crimes in connection with a meningitis outbreak that killed dozens of people across the country.

Glenn Chin had been charged with killing 25 people in 2012 after they received tainted epidural steroid shots made at the now-closed New England Compounding Center (NECC). As the supervisory pharmacist at the center, Chin once oversaw 20 people.

Jurors deliberated for three days before finding Chin guilty of racketeering, conspiracy, false labeling, and mail fraud.

Chin, 49, of Canton, sat stoically in a 7th floor courtroom at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston as the guilty verdicts were read aloud Wednesday evening.

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Chin is the second executive at NECC found not guilty of second-degree murder in what authorities called the largest public health crisis of its kind.

Barry Cadden, the former co-owner and head pharmacist of the compounding pharmacy, also was acquitted of second-degree murder charges by a federal jury in March. Cadden was convicted of fraud and racketeering charges in March and sentenced to nine years in prison in June.

NECC, according to federal authorities, sent compromised medicines that caused the outbreak of fungal meningitis that was blamed for 76 deaths and sickened more across than 700 across 20 states.

During Chin’s five-week trial, prosecutors painted him as Cadden’s “right-hand man.”

Authorities said Chin cut corners in his job, improperly sterilizing and testing drugs, mislabeling drugs, skipping cleanings, and ignoring contamination in the center’s clean rooms. Those decisions, according to a US Attorney’s Office statement, endangered lives.

Acting US Attorney William D. Weinreb said in a statement Wednesday night that Chin’s actions deliberately violated safety regulations and caused “the largest public health crisis caused by a pharmaceutical drug in US history.”

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“Mr. Chin ran NECC’s clean room operations with depraved disregard for human lives,” said Weinreb.

Chin’s attorney, Stephen Weymouth, said outside the federal courthouse Wednesday evening that his client was “remorseful for what happened.”

Weymouth said Chin was “extremely satisfied and happy about the nonresponsibility on the 25 acts of second-degree murder.”

He added that Chin was still disappointed he was found guilty on dozens of counts.

“But this is pretty much the way we thought this was going to shake out. So he’s aware of it, he’s not surprised,” he said.

Weymouth said he plans to file a notice of appeal to protect the rights of his client.

“Whether or not an appeal follows, I just don’t know,” he said.

Chin was released with conditions, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and restitution on each count of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and mail fraud, according to the US Attorney’s Office. The sentence will be imposed by a federal district court judge.

Chin, according to the US Attorney’s Office, manufactured three batches of the contaminated steroid injections, which were included in about 17,000 vials of medication.

“Mr. Chin gambled with patients’ lives by cutting corners and ignoring the warning signs that his production methods were unsafe,” said Harold H. Shaw, the special agent in charge for the FBI’s Boston division, in a statement. “Hundreds of patients were unnecessarily harmed from his reckless disregard for health and safety regulations.”

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In its statement, the US Attorney’s Office said Chin failed to properly sterilize drugs and then directed the drugs to be packaged and shipped to NECC customers nationwide despite knowing the deficiencies of such products. He prioritized production over cleaning, supervised the forging of cleaning logs, and ignored mold and bacteria found inside the center’s clean rooms, prosecutors said.

Chin also directed the compounding of drugs with expired ingredients, including chemotherapy drugs that had expired several years prior, according to the office’s statement.

Additionally, prosecutors said Chin, along with co-conspirators, used a pharmacy technician whose license had been revoked by state authorities to compound cardiac drug solutions and then tried to hide that technician’s work from regulators.

“We’ve seen the tragic impact poorly compounded drugs can have on patients” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. “Above all else, we must continue to make protecting the public health a top priority by doing all we can to ensure that the compounded drugs that patients rely on are of high quality. No patient should suffer harm or be put at risk because of poorly compounded drugs.”


Maria Cramer of Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com