Maryland U.S. Attorney Wouldn’t Sign Indictment of GSK Counsel
By David Stout | June 20, 2011 2:30 pm

The case of Lauren Stevens, the former vice president and general counsel of GlaxoSmithKline who was acquitted last month inĀ  trial that some observers thought never should have taken place, continues to be an embarrassment for the Department of Justice.

As Main Justice reported on May 11, Judge Roger Titus of the District of Maryland declared in his Greenbelt courtroom that it would be a “miscarriage of justice” to even let the jury consider the case, so in mid-trial he threw out charges of conspiracy and lying to the Food and Drug Administration over GSK’s marketing of a drug.

For months leading up to the trial, the Stevens case had attracted attention, since Stevens said she had relied on “good faith” advice of other lawyers in responding to queries from the FDA.

Now comes word that Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland, had such reservations about the case that he refused to sign the 2010 indictment against Stevens, instead leaving the task to Sara Bloom, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston on behalf of Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney there, and Patrick Jasperse, an attorney in the Department of Justice’s civil consumer litigation division.

That first indictment was dismissed after the judge found that prosecutors had erred in instructing grand jurors. A second indictment was signed on April 23 by Bloom on behalf of Jack Pirozzolo, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Boston, and by Jasperse, again on behalf of West. Again, Rosenstein’s signature was absent.

Ryan McConnell, a former federal prosecutor in Houston who is now a partner at Haynes and Boone, said federal rules require an indictment to be signed by ‘an attorney for the government,’” Sue Reisinger wrote in Corporate Counsel as she shed light on the behind-the-scenes bureaucratic disagreements over the case. “Typically, McConnell added, the ‘U.S. Attorney’s name appears on every indictment’ in his district, even if another government attorney signs it on behalf of the U.S. Attorney.”

Corporate Counsel said Rosenstein’s office declined to comment. Nor would the office comment to Main Justice.

John Wood, a former U.S. Attorney in Missouri, told Corporate Counsel that it is unusual for the Department of Justice to proceed with a case in the face of a strong objection by the U.S. Attorney. Moreover, Wood said, Rosenstein was a respected prosecutor at DOJ in the early 1990’s, so his opinion might have been expected to carry some weight.

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One Comment

  1. johnacord says:

    “Follow the money, stupid!” Titus’ dismissal of the carefully crafted indictment against Stevens was a payoff to the Pharma industry. The marketing of off-label drugs is a trillion dollar scam. I challenge anyone to go on Pacer and read the indictment and not conclude this was a case that had to go to a jury. Instead, Titus used an extraordinary procedure to bury it. This was a big time pay-off to the Pharma moguls who have used off-label marketing to scam the insurance industry, Medicaid, Medicare and who know who else out of billions of dollars. These schemes not only enrich the Pharma industry they jeopardize the health of millions of innocent people who are prescribed drugs for unapproved purposes. Give credit to Sara Bloom and Patrick Jasperse who did their best to stop the abusive legal tactics that protect Big Pharma’s huge fraud. Titus was a partner at Venable, a huge lobbyist for Big Pharma, before Bush put him on the bench on 2003. Rosenstein has also represented Big Pharma. I guess he is just protecting his turf and Titus’ back.