Judge tosses charges against pharmacy chain owner, says prosecutors’ actions ‘shock the conscience’

A federal judge in Maryland blasted prosecutors for actions that “shock the conscience” when he dismissed fraud charges last week against the owner of a pharmacy chain.
U.S. District Judge George Russell III accused prosecutors of allowing the destruction of evidence, failing to turn over evidence, and presenting false evidence in the original trial of Reddy Annappareddy, the Baltimore Sun reports in stories here and here.

Annappareddy was convicted in his first trial based on accusations that he defrauded Medicare and private insurers by billing for prescription refills never requested for customers. The conviction had already been overturned, but Russell scuttled plans for a retrial when he dismissed the charges with prejudice.

Annappareddy’s lawyers argued that prosecutors had intentionally destroyed evidence while a motion for a new trial was pending. Prosecutors responded that defense lawyers had numerous opportunities to review and copy the files before they were destroyed. They also said they believed they had permission to destroy the documents, contained in four boxes

Russell expressed frustration that the files had been destroyed. “I don’t understand why during the pendency of a motion for new trial evidence isn’t preserved,” he said.

The defense lawyers also argued that prosecutors presented false evidence and arguments about Annappareddy’s failure to respond to an email, without pointing out that Annappareddy had responded with a phone call. Prosecutors said they didn’t have the phone records because they subpoenaed the wrong service provider.

Russell also found that prosecutors did not give to the defense an opinion by an expert witness who calculated the loss to the government at a lower amount than that of a government auditor.

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