Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Meningitis Trial Taking Months

"Evidence of dozens of deaths ‘irrelevant’ for meningitis jury, defendants argue" by Maria Cramer Globe Staff  May 01, 2018

Dozens of people died and hundreds of others fell ill during the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that began in a Framingham compounding pharmacy, but should jurors in the latest trial against former pharmacy employees hear the devastating details of what is considered one of the largest public health crises ever caused by a pharmaceutical product?

And it really doesn't get its due, does it, nor does does any of the other problematic things coming from the pharmaceutical indu$try -- at least when it comes to my pre$$. I must admit, be it their stock portfolios or lobby loot, I am in awe the raw power that the pharmaceutical indu$try wields. They are right at the top with the Zioni$t lobby, banks, and the defen$e contractors, just above the energy lobbies and various other industries to which our attention is often drawn.

That was my opening statement.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers for nine pharmacists, technicians, and executives sparred over that question Monday at a hearing in US District Court in Boston.

The nine defendants are the lesser-known actors charged in the tragedy involving the New England Compounding Center during the summer of 2012, when prosecutors say contaminated, expired, and untested drugs were mislabeled and shipped to doctors, clinics, and hospitals across the country.

They face charges that include mail fraud and racketeering in connection with the scandal and are scheduled to go on trial in October, but their lawyers contend they had no role in producing the batches of a contaminated steroid that caused the deadly outbreak. Some had worked for years at the company, while others had only been there a few months when federal officials launched their investigation.

“The outbreak has nothing to do with the charges against them,” said Dana McSherry, who is representing Joseph M. Evanosky, a pharmacist who worked at NECC from April 2011 to October 2012.

What I'm looking for, your honor, is the actual death toll as of then, more than four months ago.

The nine defendants had filed a joint motion asking that US District Judge Richard G. Stearns bar testimony about the tainted vials of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, and the harm they caused.

The man responsible for compounding that drug, pharmacy supervisor Glenn Chin, was convicted last fall, defense lawyers argued. Chin began serving an eight-year sentence for racketeering and fraud in April. NECC’s former owner, Barry Cadden, was convicted of fraud and racketeering in March 2017 and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

See: Cadden's Sentence and Conviction

“This is not Cadden-Chin, round three,” McSherry said. “These are different defendants, different charges.”

Cadden and Chin were both acquitted of second-degree murder charges.

Assistant US Attorney George P. Varghese said it’s critical that jurors know about the fallout of the steroid’s production so they can understand why the federal government launched a massive investigation into the pharmacy.

Who was governor at the time, and I hope he is not planning on running for office.

The remaining defendants may not have been responsible for production of the steroid, but Varghese said they used the same unsafe practices to produce and ship other drugs.

“We are not seeking to inflame the jury,” Varghese said. “We are trying to demonstrate the story of what happened in this case.” 

Besides, not in the courtroom yet. How many died?

Varghese said prosecutors plan to seek testimony from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration officials but will not call victims or their families as witnesses.

Prosecutors have described NECC as a “fraudulent criminal enterprise” that produced substandard drugs and marketed them as the safest in the country. They say many of the remaining defendants conspired with Cadden and Chin to carry out the scheme, but defense lawyers say the government went too far in charging their clients for what are essentially civil regulatory violations.

They were under state regulation, too, and for all I know those types of operations still are. 

Are you sure you know what is in that vial?

In 2012, investigators from the CDC and the FDA found that NECC sent out vials of mold-tainted steroids that were injected into the spines of patients, many of whom suffered strokes. Those who survived continue to be afflicted by pain, headaches, and memory loss. Many now rely on canes and wheelchairs.


If they didn't kill you, they destroyed your life.

In 2014, prosecutors indicted 14 people in connection with the outbreak, which authorities said caused the deaths of 64 people and infected about 800 patients.

Well, there it is. I didn't highlight it our anything. Sixty-four, that is 64 unique individuals and souls lost who thought they were taking medicine and died horribly, leaving loved ones left behind to ask how and why.

Stearns seemed to agree with defense lawyers that it could be problematic to include evidence of the deaths and illnesses at a trial for defendants who were not accused of producing the deadly steroid, but he said prosecutors have a strong argument for why the jury may need the context of the outbreak to understand why the pharmacy was investigated in the first place.

McSherry countered that it is not necessary to tell the jurors of the deaths and illnesses that occurred, since the defense does not plan to argue that there was no reason for federal agencies to investigate the pharmacy.

“That’s fair,” Stearns replied, but Varghese said prosecutors need that background to counter the likely defense argument that they overreached in charging the defendants with racketeering or conspiracy.

He alluded to the second-degree murder acquittals of Cadden and Chin to show that jurors in those trials, who were shown photos of the victims and heard wrenching testimony about how they died, were still able to assess the evidence objectively.

The government is seeking almost $74 million from Cadden in restitution for the victims.

Besides Evanosky, the remaining defendants are Gregory A. Conigliaro, a former owner and director of NECC; Sharon P. Carter, former director of operations; Scott M. Connolly, a pharmacy technician; and five other pharmacists: Chin’s wife, Kathy; Gene Svirskiy; Christopher M. Leary; Alla V. Stepanets; and Michelle L. Thomas.

They just flipped one of them.



"Mafia murder trial in federal court a flashback to a bygone era" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  May 29, 2018

They were once legends on Boston’s streets, considered by the federal government the most menacing criminals of their time, but now in court, they look like harmless old men.

Eighty-four-year-old Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme walks slowly to his seat at the defense table, his shoulders hunched. On the witness stand, a 78-year-old former mobster recounts the day he helped Salemme bury a body in 1993. Another old man, with slicked back gray hair, concedes to jurors he used to be a “bad guy” but says he is now just a retiree who occasionally watches old mob movies.

The flashback to this bygone era of the 1990s and earlier is unfolding this month in US District Court in Boston, where Salemme, the former New England Mafia boss, is on trial for murder.

It was a time when Al Qaeda and MS-13 were distant threats, and the Italian La Cosa Nostra and James “Whitey” Bulger’s Irish mob had a stranglehold on the region. Tough guys in bellbottoms met in restaurants and made deals in used-car lots, and wiseguys chomped cigars on strolls along Boston’s gritty waterfront.

Today, the glimmering Seaport District is no longer the turf of hit men, but home to artisanal coffee shops and swanky condos. The Mafia still has a presence in the North End, but the neighborhood is more populated with young professionals and college students.

$mall potatoes or immigrant gangs displace 'em?

The trial of the octogenarian Mafia don is a reminder of how much Boston and its criminal underworld have changed.

Not really. It's now the future of that fraudulent, $ub$idi$ed lemon and the future site of General Electric’s headquarters.

The Globe reported in 1988 that Bulger was an FBI informant, but his criminal associates didn’t believe it. Later, Salemme testified that he was surprised when the FBI eventually revealed in court in 1997 that both Bulger and Flemmi were longtime informants. Bulger and Flemmi informed on their friends and got away with murder for decades. The betrayal prompted many of their associates to turn on them and cut deals with the government. 

Didn't Cullen write the.... uh-oh!

In 1999, Salemme himself began cooperating with the government and helped send retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. to prison. Connolly had been Flemmi’s and Bulger’s liaison.

In exchange for Salemme’s cooperation, his prison sentence for the racketeering was reduced and he was admitted to the witness protection program in 2003.

In Atlanta, Salemme lived a quiet, anonymous life. He joined a New England Patriots fan club.....

Not even that will protect you from the law. Chandler Jones got traded and I presume you know of Aaron Hernandez?


What, government made a deal with these guys and welched on it?


Prosecutors file motion to protect secret witness at mobster’s trial

Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi takes the stand to testify against ‘Cadillac Frank’ Salemme

Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi testifies

"Former gangster testifies that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed informants" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  June 11, 2018

Former gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi testified Monday that he and James “Whitey” Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed several informants after they were exposed by a corrupt agent, and lied to implicate others in murders they committed.

“There was always some sort of story concocted . . . to keep the heat away from us,” Flemmi said under blistering cross-examination at the murder trial of former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme.

The sordid details of the gangsters’ corrupt relationship with the FBI have emerged in previous trials related to the Bulger saga over the past two decades, but they were new to the jury in the murder case unfolding in federal court in Boston against Salemme, 84, and his codefendant, Paul Weadick, a 62-year-old plumber from Burlington.

On Monday, a defense lawyer hammered away at Flemmi’s credibility. Under questioning by Weadick’s lawyer, William Crowe, Flemmi testified that he and Bulger paid at least $235,000 to former FBI agent John J. Connolly when he was their handler from 1975 to 1990. He said they also made cash payments, delivered by Connolly, to six other FBI agents. “He was part of the gang,” Flemmi said of Connolly.

The lawyer repeatedly asked isn’t that you in the picture, getting louder each time before screaming it at the top of his lungs.

John Morris, a corrupt former FBI supervisor, admitted taking $7,000 cash from Bulger and Flemmi and was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation. Connolly is serving 40 years in prison for leaking information to Bulger and Flemmi, who were working as his informants, that led them to orchestrate the 1982 slaying of Boston businessman John Callahan in Florida.

Flemmi testified Monday that he and Bulger kept an “Ex Fund,” used for various expenses, including payoffs to corrupt law enforcement officials. It was funded through criminal profits and fluctuated from about $25,000 to $150,000, he said.

When asked about gifts that he and Bulger exchanged with FBI agents in the 1980s when they wined and dined together, Flemmi said John Newton once gave them 40 pounds of C-4 explosives.

Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, testified that he didn’t tell the government that he witnessed DiSarro’s murder until he began cooperating with authorities in 2003.....


Former stripper testifies about Mafia murder plot

Local movie producer testifies at Salemme trial

Frank Salemme, Paul Weadick found guilty in murder trial