Law & Order (1990) s15e14 Episode Script


NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
He started feeling crummy a couple hours ago.
He was running a He was fine and then he just crashed.
That's how kids are.
They look okay, and then boom, they bottom out fast.
Is he going to be all right? They'll give him something at the E.
to bring his fever down.
Looks like he's just got the flu.
But he had a shot three weeks ago.
Really? How old is he? Oh, he's 10.
Our pediatrician had a few extra doses.
You're lucky.
I know so many families who tried to get shots and couldn't.
Okay, James, we're gonna take you for a little ride, buddy.
Your mom's gonna come with us.
You're gonna be okay.
It's okay, James.
Every/thing's gonna be all right, sweetheart.
Mommy's here.
Mommy's here, baby.
All right, honey.
(SIREN WAILING) Cause of death, acute pulmonary edema.
A direct result of the flu.
So, Why'd you call us here? His parents said he'd got a flu shot about a month ago.
Sol pulled his pediatrician's chart.
According to the records, he was vaccinated, but when I ran blood titers, he had no antibodies.
And he should've had? If he'd been immunized, absolutely.
Still don't get why we're here.
There've been a lot of flu-related deaths in the past few weeks.
Iwent through the autopsy records and found half a dozen other victims who had also supposedly been vaccinated, but had no antibodies.
Supposedly? These people were not injected with the flu vaccine, they couldn't have been.
It wasn't just a bad batch of the vaccine? Even with an expired or contaminated vaccine, there'd still be antibodies.
So, if it wasn't the vaccine, what were they injected with? Good question.
There's no sign of anything toxic.
So it has to be something neutral, sterile saline solution, maybe.
So these people all thought they were getting vaccinated, they weren't.
They get the flu anyway, and it killed them? Exactly.
We could be looking at a whole bunch of homicides here.
That's why I called you.
We talking mostly old people here? Mostly.
Some were from other high-risk categories, immune-suppressed, chronic illness.
But a couple were perfectly healthy, like this James Citron kid.
Well, if they had gotten the real vaccine, couldn't they have gotten sick anyway? The M.
says that that's unlikely.
The vaccine is genetically designed to deal with whatever this year's strain is.
I spoke to a friend of mine over at DEA.
He says that black market flu vaccine is going for $800 avial.
There are 10 doses in avial.
Where's it come from? Canada, mostly.
Or it's old, expired vaccine from last year.
Because of the shortage this season, demand is high.
People are going crazy to get a shot.
Someone is selling fake flu vaccine and passing it off as black market? They're probably telling the doctors that it fell off the back of a truck in Toronto.
How many doctors are we talking about? The M.
's identified seven victims, seven different doctors.
Seven different neighborhoods.
This thing is citywide.
All right.
You know you're going to have to go down the list.
Find out how much of this stuff they bought, how many patients were vaccinated, how many people are sick.
You need to start with James Citron's pediatrician, and in the meantime, I'll call the Health Commissioner's Office.
You know what the messed up thing is? If Mrs.
Citron's doctor had the real deal, that boy didn't have to die.
WASSERMAN: I gave him the shot myself.
He doesn't exactly fit the criteria, does he? Under two or over 65 or with a chronic medical condition? Well, lwouldn't have given him one, but his mother was worried.
She said he was frail.
She insisted.
And he got the flu anyway.
Well, he must have gotten a different strain than the one I vaccinated him for.
It's rare and a damn shame, but it happens.
We need to have that vaccine tested.
The M.
suspects that it may have been a factor in his death.
A factor? In what way? Well, you're the expert, Doctor, you tell us.
How does a vaccine go wrong? It could be tainted, adulterated in some way, contaminated.
Or simply expired, ineffective.
Or not a vaccine at all.
What do you mean? That's the risk you take when you buy any kind of drug on the black market.
You just don't know what you're getting, do you, Doctor? (sums) Doctor, do you? Let's talk in here.
Okay, we're going to need to take whatever vaccine you have left.
We'll have it tested at the lab and then we'll know what we're dealing with here.
It's long gone.
Iran through it in a couple of days.
How much did you buy? Fifteen vials.
That's 150 shots, right? Rough“! - We're gonna need a list of the 150 patients you gave this phony vaccine to.
Now other than James, were any of them sick? Not so far.
Let's hope that holds up.
Who'd you buy it from? Look, I'm a pediatrician.
I did it to protect my patients.
Well, then protect your patients now and let us know where you got that phony vaccine from.
I want you to know that I went out of my own pocket nearly 10 grand to pay for those meds.
And we want you to know that we'll make sure that the prosecutor's office and the AMA knows all about that.
All right, all right.
I didn't get it on the black market.
I got it from a colleague.
I sold it to him for exactly what it cost me.
How much did you buy? Thirty vials.
I sold half to Kevin, used the rest for my patients.
Where did you get it? Why is that important? Hey, Doctor, we have seven deaths.
Flu victims with no antibodies, who've all been immunized.
One of them was a 10-year-old boy, for God's sakes, a patient of Dr.
That's impossible.
If they were immunized, they'd have the antibodies.
That's our point exactly.
People are dying from avirus they think they've been protected against.
Oh, my God, it's fake.
The M.
thinks it's a saline solution.
My drug rep got me what I needed, even with the shortage.
I thought she was a miracle worker.
We need this miracle worker's name and number.
And you have a lot of work to do, Doctor.
You have to get all your patients immunized again, this time with the real vaccine.
So, how did you get your hands on so much flu vaccine in the middle of a nationwide shortage? I had some connections with some of the distributors.
We did a background check and we found out that you've been a pharmaceutical rep for what, all of six months? What possible connections can you have when there are people who have been in the business for years can't get their hands on a single shot? An executive from Medicus hooked me up.
Medicus? Medicus Pharmaceuticals.
It's a Canadian drug manufacturer.
And what's this executive's name? Um, David.
David something.
I have his card.
How did he hook you up? He works out of their New York office.
He said he could get some, you know, on the side.
Under the counter.
You thought he was stealing it.
I figured if he was, then that was his business.
I mean, since it's from Canada, I didn't see any harm in it.
It's the same vaccine.
Trafficking in stolen goods.
International, no less.
All right, look, we're gonna need a list of the doctors you sold this stuff to and we're gonna need that David fellow's card.
ED: Can you describe him for us? David Kolbrenner.
Early 30s, tall, short brown hair, green eyes, nice smile.
Do you always remember people with such detail? Well, he was very handsome.
And I'm very single.
I just got off the phone with the Deputy Health Commissioner.
We have two more deaths where the family said the victims had been vaccinated and the autopsies said they hadn't.
That's nine.
(SIGHS) And no telling how many more before this thing is over.
They must be sweating bullets.
The Commissioner issued awarning to doctors not to buy any black market flu vaccine.
The public ought to know that.
Yeah, but they want to keep it quiet until they figure out what they're doing.
Listen, what have we got? We've got a lead on a guy that sold the phony vaccine that was used on James Citron.
Claims to be from Medicus Pharmaceuticals.
Name's David Kolbrenner.
And Medicus never heard of him? His description doesn't fit any of their employees.
Look, the doctors who are using this phony vaccine are from all over the city.
But this one rep only covered the Village, so he's got to be hitting other reps.
Or he's working from some kind of list.
BRUNSWICK: A list of drug reps? Sure.
Drug manufacturers buy them all the time.
We're not interested in the corporate customers.
We want the individuals who may have purchased the list from you, like in the past three months or so.
I'll check it out.
(TYPING) Yeah, we've got We're just interested in the men.
Five of the male persuasion.
I'll print you out a hard copy.
You got a David Kolbrenner on that list? Nope.
Of course not.
It would have been much too easy.
ED: Let's start with Mike Bass.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) I hope this guy's home.
I'm getting tired of coming out here.
After this, we still have the two in Jersey.
I hate going to Jersey.
I always get lost.
This dude's still not home.
Oh, the hell with it, we'll come back later.
Joe, check it out.
Hey, excuse me, sir.
Do you live here? Who's asking? I'm Detective Fontana, this is Detective Green, New York City Police Department.
We're looking for a Mike Bass.
I'm Mike Bass.
What can I do for you? You know a David Kolbrenner? No, I don't.
Excuse me.
Can we see some ID please? Sure.
You sure? Okay, thanks.
Joe, that's an affirmative.
Really? Hey, that's a great shirt.
Paul Smith? That's right.
Paul Smith.
Good eye.
I have mine handmade.
You know what's funny? Your driver's license says Mike Bass, but the monogram on your shirt says DK.
Oh, uh, this shirt, yeah, now this shirt is my cousin's.
His name is Don.
It's Don Kramer.
Shut up.
I'll give you his number.
Shut up.
That's him, that's definitely him.
He's sold you the vaccine? Yeah, he's the one, no question.
You done good.
We want to know where the rest of that phony vaccine is.
I don't know what you're talking about.
Don't say anything.
Direct your questions to me, please.
Where did you get it, Mr.
Bass? WICKHAM: Don't try to pressure him.
You think this is pressure? Stick around a little while.
Your client has already been lD'd by a pretty little pharmaceutical rep.
You remember her? You sold her the phony vaccine.
Told her your name was David Kolbrenner.
We found a bunch of these in your wallet, bro.
(sums) (WHISPERING) My client is willing to identify all of the pharmaceutical reps he may have sold product to.
The doctors already told us that.
And those other reps are going to ID him, too.
That's why we need to know where the fake vaccine is now before any more people die.
The clock is ticking.
Don't you understand that? My client is not responsible for any of these deaths.
We have nine bodies that say otherwise.
And there'll be more if he doesn't talk.
WICKHAM: My client is merely a middleman.
"My client, my client.
" Will you shut up? Your client is putting thousands of people at risk, causing an epidemic.
(SLAMS HAND ON TABLE) We want a name now.
You have to tell the D.
we want full immunity.
Full immunity? Dream on, Public Defender.
Look, I had no idea the vaccines weren't real until you told me.
I thought they were stolen.
I swear to God.
Smuggled in from Canada or somewhere.
I sell fake handbags and watches, for God's sakes.
I'm no killer.
FONTANA: No, you're not.
You're a serial killer.
(sums) I thought this was a public health emergency.
She said traffic was terrible.
She's new? New to homicide.
Tried a lot of felonies, major cases.
I hear she's pretty good.
(DOOR OPENS) I apologize for keeping you waiting.
It's gridlock out there.
Lieutenant Van Buren? Nice to meet you.
Detectives Ed Green How do you do? Joe Fontana.
Borgia? Italian, huh? Italian, French, Spanish.
I still have family in Venice.
While I was stuck in traffic, I had a chance to look over my notes from my conversation with Lieutenant Van Buren.
I think we can make a deal with Mr.
His lawyer wants full immunity.
You're not gonna make that deal, are you? Of course not.
Wickham, Alexandra Borgia, A.
Nice to meet you.
Just wanted to let you know that the charges will be amended to include any future influenza deaths that can be linked to your client.
Excuse me? Additional charges? I thought we were gonna talk deal.
As long as you maintain a full immunity position, I'll personally see to it that Mr.
Bass is charged with any influenza death that can be even remotely connected to him.
That's prosecutorial misconduct.
That is prosecutorial discretion.
What can you do for us? An E felony.
Scheme to defraud in the first degree for each sale.
And the homicide charges? We'll drop them.
Providing your information leads to whoever is making and distributing this so-called vaccine.
On the fraud charges, six months, concurrent sentences? One year.
lfl like what I hear.
(sums) (CLEARS THROAT) I've been buying counterfeit goods from this guy for years.
Handbags, watches, CDs, you name it.
Handbags are not killing people.
Sklar calls me up.
He tells me he's got something that's gonna blow my socks off.
So I go to this warehouse and he's got stacks of this vaccine that everybody's clamoring for.
Charges me I'm selling it for five, six, 700 bucks a piece.
Fast as I can get it, it's gone.
This guy's a counterfeiter.
Ever cross your mind that this stuff wasn't real? He told me it was stolen.
It never occurred to me that it was fake.
Honest to God.
So he's not the source.
(SCOFFS) No, no way.
Strictly wholesale.
I need more before we can go to ajudge for a warrant.
That's all I got.
This guy trusts you? We've been doing business for years, yeah.
You're gonna call him on your cell right now.
Let him know you have someone who wants to make a really big vaccine buy.
(sums) When do you want to set it up for? People are dying.
Let's do it tonight.
Kind of dark, isn't it? Well, the landlord's a skinflint.
The lights on the aisles are on motion sensors and if you don't keep moving around, they turn off after, like, It's a pain in the ass.
I'm impressed.
Mind if I take a look? You can look all you want, man, my stuff is as good as it gets.
Yeah, so is mine.
And since I've seen all of your stuff, I'll show you mine.
Now let's just wait for the warrant and then we'll go through all of this stuff piece by piece.
What do you say? You little bastard! What can I say? He's running.
He's running! (GUNSHOT) shots fired, ninth floor.
You Okay? Yeah, I'm good.
You? Yeah, never better.
How about you, Sklar, you son of a bitch? The building is sealed off.
You're only making things worse for yourself.
Damn straight.
Now come out and drop your weapon! FONTANA: Ed, get ready.
God said, "Let there be light.
" Police.
Don't move.
He's down.
He's down.
Repeat, everything normal.
No further needed.
We need a bus for a civilian.
Ninth floor.
That's how you can tell it's a knockoff.
Steel instead of titanium.
So we can get him for counterfeiting.
No vaccine? We tore that place apart.
A lot of bogus and stolen stuff, but no vaccine.
What the hell? VAN BUREN: And I just heard from the Health Department.
Sixteen deaths and counting.
Sklar's got to be out of the O.
by now.
I see the good news of my client's recovery has spread quickly.
Well, we thought we'd bring the guy some flowers, cheer him up a little bit.
Save them for your sweetie, Detective.
My client isn't talking.
You should always listen to your lawyer.
After all, he is the one that's facing 16 counts of homicide.
Oh, no, wait a second, that's you.
I didn't make the stuff.
Yeah, well, you better tell us who did.
After I talk to the D.
We'll get this knocked down to criminal possession of a firearm, some counterfeit charges, then we'll talk.
That's some bad advice, Mr.
It's now or never, pally.
If we find the other guy first, he's the one who gets the deal and you go right down.
You're gonna tell the D.
that I cooperated, all right? All right.
Against my advice, go ahead.
He said he got the stuff down in Mexico where there's no shortage.
You didn't know it was fake? Fake? No way.
He said he had connections to a manufacturer down there.
What's this guy's name? I only know him as EP.
ED: Where did you make the buys? In Red Hook.
It's a warehouse garage, on the water.
New Street.
I don't know the exact address, but I can tell you where it is.
Can you draw us a map? Hey, no problem.
I'm the manager.
Can I help you gentlemen? NYPD.
You have the authority to open these garages? No.
Besides, you need a key and I don't have one.
We do.
What's this? That's our key.
A warrant to search this garage.
You sure this is the right place? He said seventh from the parking lot on the water side.
Okay, boys, let her rip.
Here we go.
We're gonna need the name and address of whoever rents this space.
I get a money order every month.
I ain't got no return address for that space.
Well, you must have an emergency phone number in case something comes up.
I might.
You get on the phone and you tell the tenant to get down here right away.
A leak in the sprinkler system just ruined his inventory.
(HORN HONKING) If I lost one box in there, it's your ass, old man.
Who the hell am I talking to, huh? Think I'm just doing this Hey! What's going on? Elliot Peters, you're under arrest.
What for? For killing a whole bunch of people.
I'd read you a list, but it's too long, you bastard.
Turn around.
Time to read this crumb his rights.
Ow! I don't have the guts for it.
Me, neither.
But I don't want there to be any technical difficulties.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say POLLACK: Nineteen manslaughter counts? Your Honor, my client is accused of selling sterile saline solution.
A harmless substance.
Hardly harmless if it's passed off as flu vaccine.
Peters recklessly caused the death of these people by providing a useless vaccine to a marketplace driven by panic and hysteria.
The definition of recklessness is "the conscious disregard of a substantial risk.
" These phony vaccines were sold to at-risk groups.
The elderly, young children, people with chronic medical conditions.
The victims didn't get the vaccinations they needed because they wrongly believed that they were protected by Mr.
Peters' worthless version.
If I could charge him with 19 counts of murder, too, I would.
Your Honor, my client allegedly sold sterile saline solution to one party, who sold it to another who sold it to a third, who gave it to someone else, who may or may not have gotten the flu, and if they did, may or may not have died from it.
Gave it? It was injected into their bodies in lieu of the real vaccine.
One that these individuals desperately needed.
This harmless saline solution would be used by physicians who mistakenly thought they were protecting their patients from a life-threatening illness.
Your Honor Save your breath, Mr.
I too regret that your client can't be charged with murder.
No bail.
Defendant is remanded.
(sum-nus) Nice job, Counselor.
Good luck getting a conviction without any evidence.
The warrant called for a search of garage number seven in a warehouse on New Street.
Now, our informant didn't have the exact address, but the cops easily found the right warehouse and garage.
What's the problem? The problem is the garage the police searched was technically number 14.
Our informant called it number seven because it was the seventh door down the pier from the parking lot.
Shouldn't be an issue as long as the doors weren't numbered.
It's very confusing out there.
Some of the doors were numbered, some of them weren't.
This one was not particularly prominent or visible, but there is a number on the building 20 feet above the door.
How do the warehouse records list the garage? As number 14.
That's how it's recorded at the county surveyor's office as well.
We can't get this evidence in.
Pollack's argument is hyper-technical.
Besides, lthought the Supreme Court allowed the police to make a good faith error and still have the evidence remain admissible.
They did, and if this were a federal case, I wouldn't be worried.
But New York State doesn't give the same latitude.
It's a stricter standard.
You really think there's a chance it could be suppressed? You should have gone out to the site with the police and the informant prior to the raid, made sure your warrant was absolutely in order.
The informant was still in the hospital.
And we didn't want to wait and risk more of the phony vaccine getting distributed.
(sums) Let's hope we get the rightjudge.
The warrant gave permission for the police to search garage number seven.
It's a distinct address recognized on that warehouse lot by various city and state agencies, as well as by the warehouse's own record.
That is not the garage that the police entered.
The police searched the garage in the warehouse described by the informant.
They opened the seventh garage door down the row, which is what Mr.
Sklar meant when he said garage seven.
Which is what they thought he meant.
The door was clearly marked 14, not seven.
The police searched the right premises.
They found the counterfeit drugs they were looking for.
That's irrelevant, Your Honor.
You're not entitled to be lucky.
Your Honor, Mr.
Pollack is arguing a technicality.
Since when is the Fourth Amendment a technicality? (SCOFFS) The simple fact is, the police had a warrant that entitled them to search premises A and they searched premises B.
McCoy? The Fourth Amendment exists to prevent unreasonable searches.
In this case, the police got what they believed was accurate information, they waited for a search warrant, and then they entered the actual location they were looking for.
The fact that the warrant contains a numerical error is irrelevant and hyper-technical.
This is more than a hyper-technicality, I'm afraid.
Your informant did not have the correct location.
I have no choice but to suppress the evidence from the garage.
JACK: Without those vials of vaccine, I don't know that we can make our case.
We have Sklar's testimony that he bought the vaccine from Peters.
The uncorroborated testimony of a petty criminal.
So we can't use what was in the garage.
What if we have evidence of what was outside the warehouse? I don't follow.
There have to be surveillance cameras on the loading docks.
Maybe there's something there we can use.
It's a long shot.
No stone unturned.
We only keep 30 days worth of videotape at atime.
Anything before that would be taped over.
But if Peters received a new delivery in the last month, it would be on the tape? Yeah.
Well, could you check, please? All right, I'll get the file.
If he were here, he would have signed in on the sign-in sheet.
Every time? Well, maybe not every time.
That's what I thought.
All right, this is what I got.
His name is not on the sheet.
Here, see for yourself.
Why does it say "Heath" at the top of the page? I thought this was Elliot Peters' garage.
Peters is listed as a person with right of access to the space.
So who's Heath? Mr.
Peters' sister.
The garage is rented in her name.
Bad news is there's no usable video of activity outside the garage.
And the good news? We got him anyway.
Call me crazy, Your Honor, but didn't we decide this matter already? New evidence has been uncovered.
Would the People be so good as to share it with the court? Of course.
The storage garage was not Mr.
It was rented by his sister, Amanda Heath.
Without my client admitting that any of the previously excluded materials was his, he used this storage facility all the time.
He had a key But does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in this space, which is needed to assert a Fourth Amendment claim.
My client's name was on the access list to the garage.
When she moved into a smaller apartment, his sister listed him so he could finish storing her things.
In this affidavit, she categorically denies ever giving him permission to use the space for his own purposes.
The space belongs only to Ms.
So the police violated Ms.
Heath's Fourth Amendment rights.
I don't concede that, but even if they did, it's irrelevant.
She's not being charged with anything.
Your client has no standing to invoke the constitutional rights of his sister and therefore never had standing to move to suppress this evidence in the first place.
I agree.
I withdraw my previous ruling.
The evidence is reinstated.
(GAVEL BANGS) Pollack will say Peters is just a counterfeiter.
That this is fraud, not manslaughter.
I think the question here is one of foreseeability.
Peters had to know that his saline solution would end up being injected into patients as flu vaccine.
Who might or might not have gotten sick, and if they did, who might or might not have died.
They'll paint him as a screw-up, not as the heartless sociopath that he is.
I think we can cast him in that light.
He did six months federal time for selling expired drug samples to pharmacists.
He's been sued more times than you can count for various scams.
Phony airline tickets, posing as a contractor, defrauding old folks.
A career con man.
Did he ever put anyone at real risk in terms of life and limb? One of his schemes was buying totaled cars, reassembling and selling them.
They'd pass inspection, but the chassis were so bad, they were unsafe at any speed.
Another was selling previously recalled contaminated surgical supplies, which, in one case, resulted in an infection causing the victim to have his leg amputated below the knee.
I really want to nail this guy.
Well, Pollack is going to concede that his client did everything we say he did.
Sold saline solution disguised as flu vaccine.
His argument is simply that none of this caused any deaths.
I know I have a causation issue, Arthur.
I'll overcome it.
Okay, their argument is going to be that some of the victims had severe pre-existing health problems.
Otherwise, getting the flu wouldn't have killed them.
We should take that argument as our own.
Those people who had pre-existing health problems are the very ones who had a more than reasonable expectation of receiving a genuine vaccination, if they hadn't gotten the phony one first.
In fact, I think we ought to treat this as if it were a class action suit.
Winnow it down to the strongest batch of cases.
The at-risk patients.
That's gonna eliminate two or three of the deaths.
I wish I could prosecute all of them, but if Pollack casts a doubt over one of them, then the rest may become vulnerable.
I'm sure you're right.
But you're not the one who's gonna have to speak to the families.
Well, that's what rookies are for, Ms.
To do the dirty work.
I don't understand.
You're not prosecuting Elliot Peters? No, we're going to prosecute Elliot Peters.
But not for James's death? I'm sorry.
It's a strategic decision based on James's health at the time of his death.
I don't understand, James was healthy.
That's the problem.
He wasn't in an at-risk category.
He didn't have a reasonable expectation of getting a flu shot under the shortage guidelines.
I would have taken him to my own doctor instead, not the pediatrician.
My son would have been protected.
He wouldn't have gotten sick.
He wouldn't have died.
James will be represented in that courtroom.
I promise you.
You'll make sure this man is punished? You promise me that? Did you have an opportunity to review all of the medical and autopsy records of each of the 16 victims? Yes, I did.
These deaths were textbook influenza sequelae-related deaths.
In your opinion, is there anything that could have prevented those deaths? Absolutely.
A current flu vaccine.
Thank you, Doctor.
Even if these 16 people had been properly vaccinated, they still could have contracted the influenza virus and died, correct? Very unlikely.
Move to strike as unresponsive, YourHonoL The doctor's answer will be stricken and the jury is instructed to disregard it.
Once again, Dr.
Adams, could these people have gotten sick and died from influenza even if they had been properly vaccinated, yes or no? It's possible, yes.
So the vaccine isn't Not 100%, no, it isn't.
In fact, it's possible to be vaccinated against one strain of the flu and still come down with a completely different strain, isn't it? The 16 victims we're talking about died from the very strain that this year's vaccine was designed to counter.
Once again, Doctor, I didn't ask you that.
The witness answered the question.
The prosecution claims that my client ignored a substantial risk.
I'm trying to ascertain how substantial the risk of not being vaccinated is.
So, even if they'd gotten this year's vaccine, they still could have contracted a different strain of the flu and died? Yes.
Even possibly from the very strain the vaccine was meant to protect them against, correct? Possibly.
Thank you.
Redirect? Go ahead.
What are the odds of someone who has been properly vaccinated dying of a different strain of the flu? Incredibly small.
One or two in a million, perhaps.
But they can catch the flu.
Yes, and if you've been properly vaccinated, what you get is a very mild case of it.
And the odds of dying of the same strain you are vaccinated for? In all my years of practice, I've never seen it.
Nothing further.
When I ran blood titers on the deceased, I found that none of them had antibodies for the influenza virus.
And if they don't have the antibodies? Then these people never received a flu vaccination, no matter what their medical records say.
Thank you, Doctor.
When you perform an autopsy, you determine the cause of death, and then you record it in a death certificate, don't you? Basically, yes.
Isn't it true that a death certificate is considered an opinion? Based on available facts known at the time.
You were accurate in your analysis of the 16 deaths in question? I believe I was.
So isn't it true that you concluded that influenza was not responsible for the deaths of any of these people? No, that's not true, the influenza led directly to their deaths.
How can you say that when the death certificates, which you signed, state otherwise.
Defense exhibit D.
Death certificate of Patrick Fitzhugh.
According to the death certificate you completed, what was Mr.
Fitzhugh's immediate cause of death? Sepsis.
And the intermediate cause of death? Pneumonia.
And finally, the underlying cause of death? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Three causes of death and not one of them influenza? Influenza was listed on the death certificate.
Oh, line D.
Right here where it says, "Other significant conditions "which contributed to but did not directly cause death.
" So you yourself believe that influenza was not a direct cause of Mr.
Fitzhugh's death, or indeed of any of the deaths in question? A homicide does not require a direct cause.
It can be the result of an indirect cause.
Fitzhugh was a pack-a-day smoker since he was 19.
In your opinion, were those cigarettes an indirect cause of the pulmonary disease you said he suffered from? Most likely.
Then why isn't a tobacco executive sitting next to my client? Objection.
JUDGE: Sustained.
POLLACK: No further questions.
JACK: Redirect? Please explain how causes of death are listed on death certificates.
We can list an immediate, an intermediate and an underlying cause of death, and in some cases, other significant factors which contributed to the death.
And why was influenza listed as a contributing factor? The influenza virus exerted its lethality by exacerbating an underlying disease.
In other words, if they hadn't gotten the flu Then these people would still be in their customary state of ill health.
Sick, yes.
But alive.
POLLACK: Why did you put saline in the vials? I researched it carefully.
I knew that saline was not harmful to the body.
I didn't want anyone to get hurt.
I made sure all the vials were sterile.
Everything was done so that no one would get sick from the injections themselves.
But you admit you broke the law? And I am more than willing to take the punishment for that.
But I am not a killer.
lam a counterfeiter.
Weren't you concerned that some people might catch the flu and get sick because they weren't immunized? Honestly, I didn't think that anyone would catch the flu.
I mean, that's just the luck of the draw, isn't it? That could happen to anyone, whether you got a flu shot or not.
And, um, can't the vaccine itself make you sick? Besides, who dies from the flu? You're sick for a few days, eat a lot of chicken soup, and that's it.
Thank you, Mr.
These 16 people we've been talking about, they died.
They died of the flu.
From the testimony I've heard, there seems to be a difference of opinion about that, actually.
But I'm sorry they did.
However it happened.
I'm very sorry.
You just testified you didn't think there was much risk connected to your ersatz vaccine.
I didn't think so.
Nothing substantial, at least.
You didn't think that what you did posed any substantial risk? Is that your testimony? Yes.
Peters, did you ever see an old movie called The Third Man? Your Honor? Mr.
McCoy? The defendant says he couldn't foresee any substantial risk to his actions.
I'd like to explore that state of mind a little further.
The witness may answer.
The Third Man? With Orson Welles? It's been a long time.
Orson Welles plays a black marketer, who steals penicillin and then dilutes and sells it with tragic consequences.
Death, amputation, children die.
It's a parallel situation, Your Honor.
I think the analogy is apt.
There's a famous scene on a Ferris wheel.
I remember that scene.
Orson Welles goes for a ride on a Ferris wheel with his friend, and it stops when they get to the top.
And his friend, who's played by Joseph Cotten, asks, "Why? "Why did you do this?" Orson Welles says, "For the money.
" Joseph Cotten is horrified.
"Have you no conscience? How do you live with yourself?" Orson Welles points to the people on the ground far below, and the people on the ground are very small walking around in the square.
And Welles says, "Would you really feel anything "if one of those dots down there suddenly stopped moving?" What was your expectation when you labeled your saline solution as flu vaccine and then sold it in bulk to people like Sklar? That they'd sell it to someone else.
And it would eventually be used as vaccine? Sure.
And you couldn't foresee the risk to those patients? They were just dots to you, weren't they? Far away, insignificant.
And if they suddenly stopped moving, who would care? Not you.
POLLACK: Your Honor? JUDGE: All right, Mr.
You've made your point.
Nothing further, Your Honor.
JUDGE: On the first count of the indictment, manslaughter in the second degree, how do you find the defendant, Elliot Peters? We find the defendant guilty.
On the second count of the indictment, manslaughter in the second degree, how do you find the defendant, Elliot Peters? FOREMAN: We find the defendant guilty.
On the third count of the indictment, manslaughter in the second degree The Third Man? Spur of the moment.
That Ferris wheel scene just popped into my head.
Pretty effective cross.
You really painted the picture for the jury.
He's a cold-blooded, callous creep.
Fifteen years is not nearly enough for what he did.
Fifteen years times 16.
I'm going for consecutive sentences.
Fifteen times 16? That's what? Two hundred and forty.
You think the judge will buy it? If I'm persuasive enough at the hearing next week.
Your Honor, the People are asking this court to impose 16 consecutive sentences on this defendant.
Your Honor, that's a possible 240 years.
Pollack's math is correct.
That's outrageous.
For selling saline solution? For causing 16 deaths.
That's outrageous.
Your Honor, under the Penal Law, a sentence imposed for two or more offenses committed through a single act must run concurrently.
Consecutive sentences are permissible where the People demonstrate that the offenses are based on separate and distinct acts.
As this court is well aware, Mr.
Peters made multiple sales of his phony vaccine to various purchasers.
Each sale was a distinct and separate act.
Each sale was part of one large illegal scheme.
Consecutive sentences are wholly improper.
What I find wholly improper is your client killing 16 people and getting out in as little as 15 years.
Your Honor Enough, Mr.
Elliot Peters, you are hereby sentenced to 15 years for each of the following convictions, the sentences to run consecutively.
Manslaughter in the second degree, Brad Tobolsky.
Manslaughter in the second degree, Duane Rader.
Manslaughter in the second degree, Patrick Fitzhugh.
Manslaughter in the second degree, Lisa Bader.
Manslaughter in the second degree, Caroline Anderson.
Manslaughter in the second degree Thank you for keeping my promise for me.
You're welcome.
Don't do it again.