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Prosecutors charge 14 in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

BOSTON — Fourteen owners and employees of a Massachusetts pharmacy company were arrested on Wednesday in connection with America’s deadliest fungal meningitis outbreak, which killed 64 people in 2012, federal prosecutors said.

Those arrested include Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro, co-founders of the now-bankrupt New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, according to the complaint.

The charges include racketeering, conspiracy, and fraud. Cadden and a senior pharmacist, Glenn Adam Chin, faced charges that included second-degree murder.

Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, told reporters the case was “an unprecedented national tragedy.”

The outbreak occurred after NECC produced a contaminated steroid that sickened more than 700 people in 20 states, according to prosecutors. The incident led to stricter national regulation of custom medication makers which had previously escaped the tight oversight that drug manufacturers face.

NECC, located about 20 miles west of Boston shut down in October 2012 and filed for bankruptcy two months later under a barrage of lawsuits.

In September, NECC’s lead pharmacist, Chin, pleaded not guilty to the first criminal charges filed in the case.

This month, a trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of the pharmacy filed a plan that would set aside at least $135 million to compensate victims and their families.

Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski.

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