Couple tied to deadly 2012 US meningitis outbreak to be sentenced

BOSTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - A married couple who held a majority stake in a Massachusetts pharmacy that sparked a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the United States are due to be sentenced on Wednesday after pleading guilty to financial crimes.

Carla Conigliaro, the 53-year-old former majority owner of the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center, and her husband Douglas, 55, in July pleaded guilty to illegally withdrawing cash from bank accounts to avoid financial reporting requirements while their company was the target of an intense federal investigation.

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Both the defendants and federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence them to probation, rather than prison, following their guilty plea.

Federal prosecutors found that the company knowingly shipped contaminated batches of an injectible steroid used to treat back pain that sickened 778 people. The Conigliaros were not charged with having played an active role in the operations or management of NECC.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston ahead of Wednesday's hearing, the couples' attorneys asked for leniency, saying, "the Conigliaros have not only accepted responsibility for their actions but in the aftermath of the meningitis outbreak have done everything within their power to address the tragedies that resulted."

Several other former employees of the company, including pharmacists Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin, are set to stand trial early next year on charges including racketeering and mail fraud for their role in the outbreak. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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