Pharmacist convicted in meningitis outbreak gets 8 years in prison
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BOSTON — A pharmacist convicted for his role in a deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak tearfully apologized to the victims for their pain and suffering before being sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison.
The outbreak killed 76 people, and nearly 800 people were sickened in what is considered the worst public health crisis in recent U.S. history. The meningitis infection was traced to contaminated steroid injections given mostly to people with back pain.
Glenn Chin sobbed as he struggled through his statement during his sentencing hearing in Boston’s federal courthouse. He said he knows some victims will never forgive him, but he will continue to pray that they will find some sort of peace.
“I realize these are just words and nothing will bring back your loved ones,” the 49-year-old said, occasionally turning to look directly at the victims seated behind him. “But believe me when I say that I am truly sorry that this ever occurred,” he said.
Prosecutors wanted a 35-year-sentence for Chin, pointing to the devastating impact the outbreak had on families across the country. Chin’s lawyers asked for about three years behind bars.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan relayed how a victim’s daughter said she heard her mother’s scream of pain from floors below when the daughter visited her mother in the hospital. The daughter compared the sound of her mother’s screams to the sound of the ship careening into the ocean in the movie “Titanic,” Strachan said.
“That’s the sound that she has in her head when she thinks about her mother’s death,” Strachan said. “It’s the sound made by Glenn Chin’s conduct.”
Mary Beth Krakowski of South Bend, Indiana, whose aunt died at age 88 after being injected with the contaminated drugs, told Chin he had a chance to be a “hero” and blow the whistle on the pharmacy’s dangerous practices.
“How did you get lost? How did you lose those ideals? How could you have fallen so far to become uncaring, cold and callous enough to put the patients’ welfare behind your personal gain?” asked Krakowski, the niece of Alice Machowiak
Chin was cleared in October of second-degree murder under federal racketeering law, which would have brought him a life sentence.
Chin had been charged with the deaths of 25 people in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Throughout his trial, prosecutors portrayed him as a callous employee who cut corners and ignored warning signs that the pharmacy’s production methods were unsafe in order to boost production and profits.
Chin’s attorneys argued that he didn’t deserve more time behind bars than the pharmacy’s co-founder Barry Cadden, who’s serving a nine-year sentence for his role in the outbreak after being convicted of fraud and conspiracy but acquitted of murder. Chin’s attorneys said Cadden was the one calling the shots and that Chin just couldn’t stand up to his boss.
“There is more to Glenn Chin than NECC,” attorney Stephen Weymouth told the judge, pointing to the dozens of letters written by Chin’s friends and family that described him as a mentor and loving father to his two young children. “This will be Glenn Chin’s own prison from which he will never be able to get out of for as long as he lives,” Weymouth said.
The judge ordered Chin to report to prison in March.