WRENTHAM - Authorities have seized more than $18 million from the owners of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide, including $1.5 million from a Wrentham man who was a co-founder of the business.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the funds were seized from 13 different financial institutions as a result of seizure warrants unsealed Tuesday.
About $16.8 million was frozen in accounts connected to husband-and-wife Douglas and Carla Conigliaro of Dedham. Carla Conigliaro was a majority shareholder at the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center in Framingham.
Authorities say they seized another $1.5 million from accounts held by Barry Cadden of Wrentham, the company's co-founder and a shareholder.
Cadden faces 25 counts of second-degree murder and is among 14 former employees charged in a federal racketeering conspiracy that authorities say is the largest U.S. criminal case ever brought over contaminated medicine.
Cadden was arrested last month by federal agents in a dawn raid at his $1.8 million home at 13 Manchester Drive in Wrentham.
In the latest development, the Conigliaros have been charged with transferring assets following the outbreak, which was traced to tainted steroid injections made by the company.
According to Ortiz's office, the Conigliaros transferred millions of dollars the same month that their company surrendered its pharmacy license and shortly before the company petitioned for bankruptcy. They also allegedly transferred millions more after a bankruptcy court issued two orders prohibiting them from transferring any assets.
New England Compounding Center employees are accused of using expired ingredients and failing to follow cleanliness standards, resulting in tainted steroid injections.
More than 750 people in 20 states fell ill and 64 died. All 14 defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to the original 73-page indictment, mold and bacteria floated in the air at the company and on workers' gloved fingertips.
Authorities allege employees falsified logs to make it look as if the so-called clean rooms had been disinfected.
Ortiz said the pharmacy failed to comply with even basic health standards, and employees knew it.
"Production and profit were prioritized over safety," Ortiz said last month.
After regulators found a host of potential contaminants at the company's Framingham plant, the pharmacy shut down and surrendered its license to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy in October 2012.
Cadden was called before Congress in November 2012, but refused to testify, exercising his Fifth Amendment right.
Congress last year increased federal oversight of so-called compounding pharmacies, which custom-mix medications in bulk and supply them directly to hospitals and doctors.
The business, founded in 1988, filed for bankruptcy after it was bombarded with hundreds of lawsuits from victims or their families.