5 convicted in meningitis outbreak case

Alanna Durkin Richer
Associated Press

Boston – Four former employees and an owner of the Massachusetts facility responsible for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed more than 100 people and sickened hundreds were convicted Thursday of fraud and other offenses.

A Boston jury acquitted another employee, pharmacist Joseph Evanosky, of all charges after several days of deliberations.

The defendants were among 14 people charged in 2014 following an investigation into the outbreak, which sickened almost 800 people. The CDC put the death toll at 64 as of October 2013. Federal prosecutors say more than 100 people have now died.

The outbreak was blamed on contaminated injections of medical steroids made at the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham, given mostly to people with back pain. Michigan led the nation with at least 264 cases of fungal meningitis and 19 deaths connected to the injections compounded at the center.

Prosecutors said the New England Compounding Center made drugs in unsanitary conditions, sent untested products and deceived regulators.

The workers convicted Thursday were not accused of producing or sending the injections that caused the outbreak, but of sending and approving other contaminated and substandard drugs.

Among those found guilty was part owner Gregory Conigliaro, who was charged with conspiring to defraud the Food and Drug Administration.

Pharmacist Gene Svirskiy was the only defendant convicted of the most serious charge of racketeering. An email requesting comment was sent to a lawyer for Svirskiy, who was also found guilty of mail fraud charges.

Other defendants, including pharmacist Christopher Leary, were acquitted of several counts but convicted of others.