August 17, 2018

Guilty plea in New England Compounding Center case

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The former home of New England Compounding Center on Waverly Street in Framingham.

A pharmacy technician involved in the deadly fungal meningitis case traced to Framingham's New England Compounding Center has pleaded guilty to nine counts of mail fraud.

The plea, which was announced Friday by the office of U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling, is the latest in the case, which led to 64 deaths across nine states in 2012.

Scott Connolly, 46, of East Greenwich, R.I., pleaded guilty to nine counts of mail fraud. For more than two years, Connolly produced thousands of cardioplegia solutions that were sent to customers throughout the country. The solutions are used to stop patients' hearts during heart surgery.

Connolly worked at New England Compounding Center from 2010 to 2012, after he had voluntarily surrendered his license in connection with a disciplinary action against him, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Mail fraud charges carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

Connolly's plea is the latest development in the New England Compounding Center case.

Just last month, another pharmacy technician, Claudio Pontoriero, 40, of Everett, was charged with making false statements to investigators. Pontoriero allegedly made $355,000 from New England Compounding Center and Ameridose, a drug repackaging company then based in Westborough, by selecting the companies in drug purchasing.

Many major players have already been convicted in the case, including Barry Cadden, the owner and head pharmacist, who was sentenced in June 2017 to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release. Cadden was found to have authorized the shipping of drugs before test results confirming their sterility were returned, never notified customers of non-sterile results, and compounded drugs with expired ingredients.

The former supervisory pharmacist, Glenn Chin, was sentenced in January to eight years in prison and two years of supervised release. He was convicted by a federal jury in Boston of 77 counts, including racketeering and mail fraud.

Carla Conigliaro, the majority shareholder of New England Compounding Center, and Doug Conigliaro, her husband and a former Ameridose executive, both pleaded guilty in 2016 to withdrawing cash from their bank accounts in an attempt to circumvent financial reporting requirements. Robert Ronzio, the national sales director for the center, pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiring to defraud the Food and Drug Administration.

Nine other suspects are scheduled for trial in the case this October.

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