Glenn Chin, the former supervisory pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center, was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for his role in a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed dozens of people across the country.
Chin was charged in the deaths of 25 people who received tainted epidural steroid shots made at the now-closed Framingham pharmacy. Authorities say the outbreak was responsible for the deaths of 64 people and caused infections in nearly 800 patients, the largest public health crisis ever caused by a pharmaceutical product.
In October, Chin was acquitted of second-degree murder charges but convicted of racketeering and other crimes. Federal prosecutors had argued that Chin, 49, should be sentenced to 35 years in prison for overseeing a lab that was filthy and plagued by rodents.
During victim impact statements Wednesday, Mary Beth Krakowski, a nurse from Indiana whose aunt died after taking tainted medication, condemned Chin for not speaking up when he saw problems at the lab.
“Mr. Chin, you had the opportunity to be the hero in this situation,” she said. “However, you chose to go against the principles of sterility. How did you get so lost?”
Chin remained stoic through most of the hearing but later began to cry as family members of victims who died and others who were sickened came forward to say how the outbreak had upended their lives. His lawyer, Stephen Weymouth, said Chin is deeply remorseful.
“He can’t even begin to ask for forgiveness . . . because Glenn Chin is unable to forgive himself,” he said.
In a statement to the court, Chin apologized to the victims of the outbreak.
“If I had known the drugs were tainted, I would have never sent the drugs out,” he said. “I hope you will believe me when I say I am truly sorry.”
After sentencing Chin, US District Court Judge Richard Stearns said: “Mr. Chin, I wish you luck. I believe you are remorseful . . . I wish none of this had ever happened.”
Chin’s lawyer had argued that Chin, the father of a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy who live in Canton, should be sentenced to three years in prison.
But prosecutors said Chin repeatedly ignored warning signs that the center’s “clean room,” where drugs were produced, had become a breeding ground for deadly mold. He signed off on a shipment of drugs that he knew could be contaminated to keep pace with the strong demand for NECC’s products, federal prosecutors said.
“The fungal meningitis outbreak that resulted from Chin’s and his co-defendants’ fraudulent criminal conduct was an unprecedented public health crisis in our nation’s history,” Assistant US Attorney Amanda Strachan wrote in her sentencing memo. “His crimes stole and ruined countless lives, and the pain he caused for hundreds has no foreseeable end.”
Chin’s former boss, Barry Cadden, who owned the pharmacy, was also acquitted of second-degree murder but convicted on racketeering charges. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Unlike Cadden, Chin did not profit personally from NECC’s sales, his lawyers said.
Chin’s lawyers presented more than 40 letters written by his brother, childhood friends, former co-workers at CVS, where he was a pharmacist; and young men that Chin mentored when he volunteered at a nonprofit group in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.
“I would not be the man that I am without Glenn Chin in my life,” one man wrote.
His lawyers argued that Chin has been devastated financially and emotionally by the trial and does not pose a threat to public safety.
He is “a man who has been deeply saddened, indeed heartbroken, by the tragic events that have brought him before the court,” Weymouth said.
Outside the courthouse, Cathy Maccoux, whose daughter Traci was 21 when she was given a steroid that ruined her health and forced her to quit college, said she could not help but feel sorry for Chin.
“He’s a human being,” she said as she stood beside her husband, Dan. The couple came from their home near Twin Cities, Minn., for the hearing.
The couple’s daughter, once a promising swimmer, is now unable to work. At 26, she is riddled with college debt that she pays off bit by bit with her disability income.
“I felt for him,” Cathy Maccoux said of Chin. “What Traci has gone through is 5,000 times that.”