Unlicensed Pharmacy Technician Sentenced for Working at New England Compounding Center
BOSTON – A New England Compounding Center (NECC) employee was sentenced today in federal court in Boston in connection with working as an unlicensed pharmacy technician at the compounding pharmacy in Framingham.
Scott M. Connolly, 47, of East Greenwich, R.I., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 24 months of probation. In August 2018, Connolly pleaded guilty to 10 counts of mail fraud. In December 2014, Connolly was indicted along with 13 others in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak originating from NECC. Connolly cooperated with the government and testified during co-defendants’ trials.
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 Gene Svirskiy.
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. In December 2018, Svirskiy was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, 10 counts of mail fraud, and two counts of introduction of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead. He was sentenced in May 2019 to 30 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; FDA Acting Commissioner Norman E. Sharpless, M.D.; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Sean Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division; and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda P.M. Strachan, Chief of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney George P. Varghese of Lelling’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.