The head of the Justice Department’s criminal division under President George W. Bush reportedly opposed levying felony charges against executives of a pharmaceutical company that’s widely blamed for helping start the opioid epidemic.
She has since joined a private law firm and has successfully defended pharmaceutical companies against government investigations.
A federal prosecutor recommended the felony indictments, which could have resulted in jail time if convictions were secured, but the DOJ officials rejected the notion after meeting with the Purdue Pharma executives and their defense team, according to The New York Times. It’s unclear if the criminal division chief attended that meeting.
Over 12 years later, it’s still unknown which senior officials attended that meeting, who rejected the indictment recommendations, and why they were rejected. Local and state governments have since mounted hundred of lawsuits against Purdue alleging the company downplayed the dangers of its blockbuster opioid, OxyContin.
The DOJ declined to comment on this story.
Purdue representatives lobbied top DOJ officials on multiple occasions during the Bush administration, according to news reports and congressional testimony. Future FBI Director James Comey was involved in one instance, and Rudy Giuliani, who now serves as President Donald Trump’s attorney, was tied to another.
The prosecutor who recommended felony indictments against Purdue executives found he was recommended for termination after a third instance that occurred hours before Purdue accepted a plea deal that was offered in lieu of felony charges.