Unlicensed Pharmacy Technician Pleads Guilty to Working at New England Compounding Center
BOSTON – A New England Compounding Center (NECC) employee pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with working as an unlicensed pharmacy technician at the compounding pharmacy in Framingham.
Scott M. Connolly, 46, of East Greenwich, R.I., pleaded guilty to 10 counts of mail fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Dec. 19, 2018. In December 2014, Connolly was indicted along with 13 others in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak originating from NECC. Connolly is cooperating with the government and is expected to testify during the October 2018 trial of the remaining NECC defendants.
Connolly was a licensed pharmacy technician from September 2007 to January 2009, when he voluntarily surrendered his license in connection with a disciplinary action against him. Under Massachusetts regulations, pharmacy technicians filling drug orders are required to be licensed. Nevertheless, Connolly was hired at NECC and worked as a pharmacy technician from 2010 through October 2012. Connolly was assigned to Clean Room 2 making cardioplegia solutions that are used to stop patients’ hearts during heart surgeries. For more than two years, Connolly produced thousands of cardioplegia solutions that were sent to customers throughout the country. Connolly’s unlicensed status was known to his supervising pharmacists, Barry Cadden, Glenn Chin, and others.
To mask his presence from regulators, Connolly used Cadden’s username and password to log into the computerized pump so that his name would not appear on any paperwork generated when he filled the cardioplegia orders. He also did not perform any of the required validation tests other pharmacy technicians were required to do. Connolly’s employment file falsely listed him as a warehouse employee.
The NECC criminal case arose from the nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that was traced back to contaminated vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) manufactured by NECC. The outbreak was the largest public health crisis caused by a pharmaceutical product.
In March 2017, Cadden was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead. He was sentenced in June 2017 to 108 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In October 2017, Chin was convicted of the same charges and sentenced in January 2018 to eight years in prison and two years of supervised release.
The charge of mail fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Derek Roy, Resident Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Sean J. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s Northeast Field Office; and Raymond Moss, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys George P. Varghese and Amanda P.M. Strachan of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the court documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.