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Update: Former Glaxo Lawyer Acquitted!
Update 5/10/11 12:40 pm: In a rare move, the federal judge presiding over the trial of Lauren Stevens didn't wait for her to call her even a single witness. Instead, he granted her lawyers' motion to acquit. Full story to come on CorpCounsel.com.
Lauren Stevens, the indicted former in-house lawyer for GlaxoSmithKline, asked a federal judge Monday to acquit her of six criminal charges that she obstructed a federal investigation and made false statements to investigators.
Stevens’s lawyers argued the point Monday after the government rested its case on May 6, and the defense filed a 37-page motion. Reid Weingarten, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, leads the defense team.
The motion stated, “At the conclusion of the government’s case-in-chief, it has failed to present evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the six counts against Ms. Stevens. For this reason, the Court should enter a judgment of acquittal.”
Stevens has pled not guilty to the charges, which relate to an FDA inquiry into whether Glaxo was off-label marketing the anti-depression drug, Wellbutrin.
The motion argued that just because Stevens didn’t submit requested records to the FDA didn’t mean that she was “concealing them.”
She intended to present the records, which showed how some doctors were discussing off-label uses of Wellbutrin in paid talks, in a future face-to-face meeting with investigators so that she could provide some context, the motion said.
It also argued that the government failed to prove that Stevens made any false statements. Some statements were simply a matter of interpretation, it said.
For example, Stevens had told the FDA that Glaxo didn’t provide compensation to attendees of the talks. However, witnesses indicated that Glaxo did offer entertainment and gifts to attendees—items that Stevens didn’t consider to be “compensation.”
And neither did outside counsel from King & Spalding, according to the motion, which stated: “After reviewing the entertainment information, King & Spalding sent [Stevens] a draft letter saying ‘Attendees were not paid, reimbursed, or otherwise compensated to attend these events.’ ”
Last, it argued that some statements, even if wrong, were not “material, intentional falsehoods.” The motion claimed the government “failed to prove that Stevens acted with a specific intent to make a false or fraudulent statement.”
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus in Greenbelt, Maryland, said he would consider the motion to acquit overnight. He can grant it, deny it, or defer a decision until later in the trial.
If he denies or defers it, the defense is expected to begin presenting witnesses on Tuesday.