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BOLAR FORMER R&D LAB DIRECTOR FINELLI GETS THREE YEARS PROBATION; COLLEAGUES SCHETLICK AND LONG SENTENCED TO 18-MONTH JAIL TERMS FOR FRAUD AND OBSTRUCTION

Executive Summary

Bolar ex-R&D laboratory director Gena Finelli was sentenced on July 17 in Baltimore federal court to three years of probation for her role in the generic drug scandal, capping a week that saw her ex-colleagues, Gloria Schetlick and Susan Long, receive jail terms of 18 months each. Baltimore federal court Judge John Hargove sentenced Finelli to 36 months of probation, as well as 500 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, for obstructing FDA inspections from August through October 1989 into fraud in the development and approval of Bolar's generic version of SmithKline Beecham's antihypertensive Dyazide. Finelli pled guilty to the one count of obstruction on Oct. 25, 1990 ("The Pink Sheet" Oct. 22, 1990, p. 11). Hargrove handed down a reduced sentence for Finelli because she was the first Bolar employee to come forward and work with government investigators on its case against the generic drug firm. Hargrove said: "I think she got there first" and she "got the government rolling." He added: "I do believe she deserves credit for cooperating." Maryland First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Jordan told the court that Finelli was the first to cooperate in the Bolar investigation which began in July 1990. Jordan said that because Finelli had obstructed FDA's inspections and the concurrent congressional investigation, the U.S. Attorneys' office realized she had the potential to "open Pandora's box" and that once she did, the "dominoes teetered." Her cooperation resulted in the conviction of Bolar, seven former Bolar execs, and an executive from another company, Jordan added. Finelli's attorney, Charles Scheeler (Piper & Marbury, Baltimore), petitioned Hargrove to give Finelli probation and community service, arguing that she was "critical" to the government's case and did not need to be "prodded" to give "the whole loaf" to investigators. Scheeler said his client needs to be able to work at a yogurt store that she bought in order to support her mother and daughter. Schetlick, who was sentenced on July 14 to a 18-month term without parole, pled guilty on Dec. 12, 1990 to falsifying data to cover Bolar's switching of the branded Dyazide for its own triamterene/hydrochlorothiazide product, which generated sales of $140 mil. during its two-and-one-half years on the market ("The Pink Sheet" Dec. 17, 1990, T&G-7). Assistant public defender Anthony Gallagher told the court that Schetlick's cooperation was the "impetus for other defendants to plead guilty." However, Judge Hargrove told Schetlick that he was "not going to suggest that because of you," everybody at Bolar "pled guilty. That's not true." Hargrove said the key players pled guilty because of Finelli's cooperation and that Bolar employees jumped on "the bandwagon" because they were "afraid" of damaging testimony. "I have to weigh your situation with the public situation, and the public has been seriously hurt," Hargrove told Schetlick. He ordered her to report to the U.S. Marshal's Service on Aug. 28. Long was sentenced to prison by Hargrove on July 15. She pled guilty in February 1991 for her role in the Dyazide substitution and obstructing the subsequent FDA investigation ("The Pink Sheet" Feb. 11, 1991, T&G-12). Attorney John Buonora (Gallo & Buonora, Comack, N.Y.) asked Judge Hargrove to be easy on Long because a "substantial jail term is going to be devastating to her." Buonora explained that since the Bolar scandal his client has cooperated with the government in every capacity. Long apologized to the court for her wrongdoing. Hargrove told her that a "tremendous amount of harm" has been done to the public. "Unfortunately, Miss, you were a part of that process, a 'willing' part." Hargrove said that Long's assistance to the government's investigation was "about the same" as Schetlick's and that the "only fair thing to do" was to impose an equal sentence. Long must report to prison on Aug. 29.

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