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Eric Holder negotiated an OxyContin settlement in West Virginia - working for Purdue Pharma!Marianne Skolek-Perez Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter
Eric Holder managed to keep the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma quiet since there would be no trial and no documents or testimony to be made public.
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - We are losing the war on drugs because of people in high office whose hands are deep in the pockets of the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma!
Eric Holder, our current Attorney General, went from prosecuting bad guys to shielding them. In 2001, Darrell McGraw Jr., the longtime Democratic attorney general of the state of West Virginia, filed a civil case against Purdue Pharma alleging that the privately held pharmaceutical company had engaged in "coercive and deceptive" marketing of OxyContin.
McGraw further charged that Purdue had used misleading advertisements and had promoted the inappropriate use of OxyContin for minor pain. His lawsuit further stated that Purdue had offered doctors free trips to “pain management” seminars where the firm pitched the drug as safe and effective for treating minor pain – without mentioning the drug was supposed to be used only for severe pain and easily abused.
McGraw also alleged that Purdue had told “pharmacists that they can get in trouble if they do not fill prescriptions, even if they believe someone may be an abuser of the drug.” He maintained that the firm’s underhanded practices had caused users in West Virginia to become addicted to the drug.
And he noted that while Purdue’s annual sales revenue from OxyContin had surpassed $1 billion, the state of West Virginia was saddled with the cost of treating people who had become addicted due to misuse of the drug -- encouraged by Purdue Pharma.
The lawsuit was a big worry to Purdue -- very specifically they had a lot to lose financially. This suit was a serious threat to the corrupt drugmaker, and they eventually called in Eric Holder, an attorney working for Covington and Burling in Washington, DC to cover up their deceptive deeds.
The morning the case was to go to trial, in November 2004, Holder helped negotiate a settlement. Working in the judge’s chambers in West Virginia, he put together an agreement under which the firm would have to pay $10 million over four years into drug abuse and education programs in West Virginia -- and Purdue Pharma would not have to admit any wrongdoing!
Eric Holder managed to keep the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma quiet since there would be no trial and no documents or testimony to be made public. Did Holder's "hands in the pockets of Purdue Pharma" allow this epidemic of OxyContin death and addiction throughout the country to perpetuate? Many people think it did.
In late 2002, the feds in Virginia under the leadership of U.S. Attorney John Brownlee had begun an investigation of Purdue Pharma with the first of what would be nearly 600 subpoenas for corporate records related to the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of OxyContin.
In May 2007, the company and its three top executives pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraudulently marketing OxyContin by claiming it was less addictive, less subject to abuse, and less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. Purdue Pharma and the three executives, Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim agreed to pay fines of $634.5 million. At the time, US Attorney Brownlee summed up the case:
Even in the face of warnings from health care professionals, the media, and members of its own sales force that OxyContin was being widely abused and causing harm to our citizens, Purdue, under the leadership of its top executives, continued to push a fraudulent marketing campaign that promoted OxyContin as less addictive, less subject to abuse, and less likely to cause withdrawal. In the process, scores died as a result of OxyContin abuse and an even greater number of people became addicted to OxyContin; a drug that Purdue led many to believe was safer, less abusable, and less addictive than other pain medications on the market.
So it appears that West Virginia AG Darrell McGraw knows what a bad guy looks like after all. On the other hand, Holder protected Purdue Pharma from the charges made by McGraw -- allowing the drug company to continue its reign of death, addiction and lies throughout the country.
“We didn’t know why they settled with us,” says Frances Hughes, McGraw’s chief deputy attorney general. “Our suspicion is that they did not want anything to come out at the trial.”
Alberto Gonzales, 80th Attorney General of the United States, attempts to fire 9 U.S. Attorneys and puts US Attorney Brownlee on the hit list as he was investigating Purdue Pharma
Brownlee testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2007 -- after Purdue Pharma and their three CEO's pleaded guilty in Federal Court to falsely marketing OxyContin as less addictive than other painkiller (by their guilty plea to misdemeanor charges, they avoided jail time). In his testimony, Brownlee recounted that Michael Elston, then chief of staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, called him on Oct. 24, 2006, the deadline for Purdue Pharma to accept the government's offer or face other charges. Elston told him that Purdue'' had complained it needed more time, Brownlee said. "I sensed that he was inquiring almost on their behalf. … I simply dismissed him," Brownlee said. Elston had called at McNulty's request "to make sure that Brownlee didn't do anything to jump the gun." Brownlee told Elston that he had authority to settle the case and "he needed to back out of the way."
Purdue Pharma accepted the plea that evening. A week later, on November 1, Elston sent an e-mail to Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales' chief of staff, listing U.S. attorneys, including Brownlee, to be considered for dismissal. None was fired. Brownlee said he doesn't know why he was targeted. "I certainly had concerns."
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008
Giuliani played a key role on behalf of Purdue Pharma in the negotiations that led to its felony plea. It was already known that Giuliani had participated in those talks on behalf of Purdue Pharma, which is a client of Bracewell & Giuliani, a law firm in Houston in which Mr. Giuliani was a principal.
In an interview, John Brownlee described Mr. Giuliani as playing the central role in talks with federal prosecutors.
“When we had meetings, he was the lead counsel and the lead spokesman for the company,” Mr. Brownlee said.
Mr. Giuliani, before representing Purdue Pharma in a legal capacity, also worked for Purdue Pharma through Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm in which he had been a principal. Among other things, Mr. Guiliani worked on company-sponsored programs aimed at stemming OxyContin’s abuse and met with officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration when that agency was investigating Purdue Pharma.
Jay McCloskey, former U.S. Attorney for the State of Maine
McCloskey worked as a federal prosecutor in Maine and was one of the first officials to call attention to the devastation of OxyContin in his state. He later was "won over" by Purdue Pharma and became a consultant to them and defended the actions of the company.
"Purdue Pharma was a responsible company," he said. "But they became the poster child of prescription drug abuse."
This was after Purdue Pharma and its top executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court and were fined $632 million -- as well as a settlement to his state of Maine in the amount of $719,000.
The Corporate Crime Reporter, Multinational Monitor listed Purdue Pharma as one of the "10 Worst Corporations of 2007".
Guess they didn't think that the words "responsible company" applied to Purdue Pharma as Mr. McCloskey seemed to think.
He was quoted as saying he had “no regrets" at working for Purdue Pharma -- even as his state was dealing with the effects of addiction and death because of the marketing of OxyContin -- and McCloskey had "both hands" in the pockets of Purdue Pharma.
I have to wonder Mr. McCloskey if you hadn't danced with the devil in working for Purdue Pharma -- would the residents of your state been proud to say you kept them safe from death and addiction? Currently Maine leads the country in the OxyContin epidemic.
I sent the below email to McCloskey in May 2009 when I learned he wanted to be considered again for the position of U.S. Attorney for Maine.
I understand you are being considered for the position of U.S. Attorney in the State of Maine. Since Maine has an epidemic of OxyContin deaths and addictions and you were an outspoken opponent of Purdue Pharma at one time and are now a paid consultant of Purdue Pharma's, I think the citizens of Maine deserve better. I intend to do what I can to see that Maine's citizens receive better.
Mr. McCloskey was not appointed U.S. Attorney of Maine.
Jack Conway, Attorney General for the State of Kentucky - lost bid for US Senate in 2010.
The State of Kentucky had filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for the loss of life and the rampant addiction rates in the state. Conway had no problem taking a $50,000 check from a group funded by Purdue Pharma -- the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI).
I wondered how it would play out in a courtroom when the case against Purdue Pharma was heard. Think it may have gone something like this -- Purdue's attorneys in their snakeskin, polished shoes "Did Kentucky take $50,000 to fight the drug problem in Kentucky from NADDI (Purdue Pharma)?"
Reply from Kentucky's attorneys "As a matter of fact, we did -- bought us some file cabinets to house the huge files we have on the OxyContin deaths and addictions we are dealing with."
Judge hearing the case - "Why would Kentucky take money directly or indirectly from the company they are suing?"
Sound of the gavel being slammed down and the words "case dismissed."
Conway was quoted as saying he told me that he will continue to take “this money and put it to good use to help in the fight against drugs and crime.” (For clarification, I have never had a conversation with Conway.)
"Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt."--George Bernard Shaw.
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