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Glenn Chin, the pharmacist convicted for his role in the 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 76 people and sickened hundreds more, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison. Even though this may sound like a long time, Chin should consider himself lucky. He was being prosecuted for mail fraud, racketeering, and second-degree murder.
While he was convicted of mail fraud and racketeering, he was cleared of the second-degree murder charge, which could've resulted in a maximum sentence of life in prison. But, what exactly happened to cause such a devastating outbreak of fungal meningitis?
The mold-tainted steroid injections that caused meningitis were produced by the New England Compounding Center, and Chin ran the "clean rooms" where the drugs were made. During his trial, prosecutors portrayed Chin as an employee "who cut corners and ignored warning signs of unsafe production methods to boost production and profits."
As per Reuters, prosecutors said that Chin "directed staff to ship untested drugs, use expired ingredients, falsified cleaning logs, and ignored mold and bacteria." Chin's attorney countered that Barry Cadden, the pharmacy's co-founder and Chin's boss, was the one in charge, and Chin was unable to "stand up to his boss."
The effects of Chin's actions may seem to warrant a murder conviction, but not everyone that causes a death will be convicted of murder. In Chin's case, prosecutors decided to charge him with second-degree murder, which is generally defined as either: (1) an intentional killing that's not premeditated or committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" moment, or (2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life.
Although it may appear that Chin's conduct felling into the second type of second-degree murder, a jury disagreed. And, while the families of the victims who died of meningitis because of the tainted injections may feel that the pharmacist was guilty of second-degree murder, it wasn't up to them.
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