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Four Former Cordis Officials Innocent Of Pacemaker Fraud

October 21, 1989

MIAMI (AP) _ A federal jury found four former Cordis Corp. executives innocent Friday of charges they sold defective pacemakers between 1983 and 1985.

The defendants went on trial six weeks ago for conspiracy and related charges in what the government claimed was the sale of 2,200 defective pacemakers and 6,000 batteries prone to corrosion.

All have left the Miami-based company, which has since sold off the pacemaker division. The company pleaded guilty previously and paid a $764,000 fine, along with $5 million in civil penalties.

Cleared Friday were Harold Hershenson, 62, a former executive vice president; John Pagones, 64, former vice president for corporate product assurance; Stephen Vadas, 48, a former manager for product administration and Dean Ciporkin, 42, a former senior reliability assurance engineer.

After their acquittal, the defendants accused the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration of using them as scapegoats for its own regulatory failures.

″What I object to was the bringing of these politically motivated charges,″ Vadas said as his wife sobbed in relief on his shoulder. ″Congress got after the FDA for not protecting the public, and the Justice Department and the FDA picked on us.″

Defense attorney Jack Blumenthal, a former prosecutor, said the government had tried to convict the men of vioating non-existent quality standards for pacemakers.

″The first standards were those introduced in the indictment,″ said Blumenthal.

″This indictment should never have been brought,″ Hershenson said. ″The jury did what it had to do, find us innocent. Justice was done.″

The FDA said the pacemakers could have stopped without warning, although no deaths were attributed to failure of the devices, which are implanted under the skin to regulate the heartbeat. The charges said company officials knew of the problems but sold the pacemakers anyway.

In a statement released after the verdict, Cordis said the company was gratified by the results of the trial.

″We fully supported the individuals and have always believed that no crime had been committed,″ the statement said.

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