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Verdict form raises questions about case of pharma exec tied to deadly outbreak

Pharma exec faces sentencing
Could a possible error mean less prison time for pharma exec? 03:53

The man behind what may be the largest pharmaceutical disaster in U.S. history will be sentenced Monday in court. Barry Cadden's New England Compounding Center produced tainted steroids that killed 64 people and made hundreds more sick.

Cadden faces up to 35 years in prison for dozens of counts of racketeering and fraud, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal. But CBS News has learned a possible error could mean less time behind bars for the pharmacy executive.

Cadden is seen on an internal video mocking state regulators.

"How can they come in and inspect me? They don't even know what they're looking at. They have no clue," Cadden said.

The U.S. attorney charged him with mail fraud and racketeering, including acts of second-degree murder, for sending hundreds of shipments of medicine manufactured in filthy conditions that ultimately killed dozens of patients.

"Production and profit were prioritized over safety," said Carmen Ortiz, former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

But at the end of his trial, a mixed verdict: guilty of fraud and racketeering, not guilty of murder.

Victims' family members like Anita Baxter, whose mother Karina, died after receiving a tainted injection were crushed.

"I really wanted him to be found guilty of the murder of at least one of the victims even if it wasn't my mom. I'd hoped he'd have at least one conviction for the murders," Baxter said.

Leaving the federal courthouse that day, Cadden let his lawyer do the talking.

"It is a disgrace that he was charged with murder, it was unprovable, unwarranted and unjustified and we are deeply grateful that the jury saw it that way and vindicated Mr. Cadden on all 25 counts of the murder charges," attorney Bruce Singal said.

But CBS News has learned some of the jurors may have believed Cadden was guilty of murder. In a criminal case, all jurors must be unanimous on every charge. But according to notations on the final verdict form in the Cadden case, released after the trial, jurors may have been split on all but two murder charges, most of them in favor of a guilty verdict.


Former Boston federal judge Nancy Gertner has seen hundreds of final verdict forms, but never one like this.

"What I would have expected to be done at that point is you take the verdict form. You show it to the lawyers, and you say what would you like, what would your recommendation be?" Gertner said.

If the jurors were split, they should've been sent back to deliberate until they reached a unanimous decision. But that never happened. The judge did not question the numbers on the form, the jury affirmed the verdict, and the case was closed.

"We don't know what these numbers meant. These numbers could have been a preliminary vote. These numbers could have been a final vote, you don't know what they meant," Gertner said.

It left Baxter and others still searching for answers.

"Looking at these numbers, I would believe that the majority of the jurors felt that Cadden was guilty," Baxton said.

Finding Cadden guilty of her mother's murder would have exposed him to more time behind bars.

"If three-quarters of the people believed that he was guilty of murdering my mom and the other victims, then how was he acquitted of these murder charges? It's a -- it's an injustice," Baxter said.

Only the jury knows whether it intended to acquit Cadden of the 25 counts of second-degree murder. But once the jury is gone, the verdict is final. So even if it was a mistake, nothing can be done at this point.

The judge told us he cannot comment on an ongoing trial but has agreed to release the names of the jurors after sentencing

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