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Resident sentenced to prison for role in meningitis outbreak

by | Dec 14, 2022 | News

Hopkinton resident Sharon Carter was re-sentenced Tuesday to 5 months in prison and a year of supervised release for conspiring to defraud the Food and Drug Administration, based on her work at the New England Compounding Center, which was blamed for a deadly meningitis outbreak 10 years ago.

Carter, 58, also must pay a fine of $4,000. In December 2018, she was convicted following an eight-week jury trial. The government had appealed her original sentence, as well as those of some of the other 13 individuals tried as part of the case.

More than 100 people died, and 753 patients across 20 states were diagnosed with fungal infections after receiving injections manufactured by NECC that were contaminated with preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.

Carter, 58, was the director of operations at NECC, a Framingham-based company that now is defunct. She was accused of partaking in an operation that made drugs in an unsafe manner and in insanitary conditions.

According to the press release, Carter “oversaw the processing and confirmation of drug orders received by NECC. Carter conspired with others to shield NECC’s operations from regulatory oversight by the FDA by claiming to be a pharmacy dispensing drugs pursuant to valid, patient-specific prescriptions. In fact, NECC routinely dispensed drugs in bulk without valid prescriptions. Carter directed employees to engage in numerous fraudulent prescription schemes to deceive regulators by creating the appearance that NECC had prescriptions for the drugs it was selling.”

“As NECC’s director of operations, Sharon Carter conspired with her colleagues to lie to federal regulators to perpetrate a massive fraud scheme that harmed hundreds of people across the country whose lives will never be the same. Our thoughts are with them as Ms. Carter is finally held responsible for her role in one of the worst public health crises in U.S. history,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “While she now heads to prison, rest assured the FBI, and our law enforcement partners will continue to work to bring others who like her, violate the law and put patients at risk to justice.”

Added U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins: “One may think that making misrepresentations or lying to federal regulators is a victimless crime. This case proves otherwise. In her role as director of operations, Ms. Carter conspired to deceive regulators into treating NECC as a lawfully operating pharmacy. The victims in this case — all trusting, innocent people — were simply seeking pain relief. Instead, those who survived were sentenced to a lifetime of anguish and trauma.”

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