Three former executives of medical-device manufacturer Synthes Inc. were sentenced to prison Monday. A fourth might have been if his attorney hadn't collapsed while standing at a lectern moments after saying that Synthes' unindicted board chairman was the ultimate authority and responsible for the illegal, sometimes fatal, bone-cement trial at the center of the proceedings.
Michael Huggins, 54, of West Chester, the former president of Synthes USA, was sentenced to nine months in prison and taken into custody immediately. Thomas Higgins, 55, of Berwyn, former leader of Synthes' spine division, got the same sentence. John Walsh, 48, of Coatesville, who was in charge of regulatory affairs, got five months.
U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis gave Higgins two weeks to report to prison so he could arrange for extra medical care for his wife. Davis gave Walsh until next Monday to report because Tuesday is his young daughter's birthday.
The three will pay $100,000 each in fines and be on supervised release after prison. All pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count under the responsible-corporate-officer doctrine.
Richard Bohner, 56, of Malvern, former vice president for operations, was the third of four defendants on Davis' docket Monday and might have gotten a sentence similar to those received by Huggins and Higgins.
But as one of his attorneys, Brent Gurney, was making the case for why Bohner should get only probation, Gurney collapsed and hit his head on a nearby table. He was given medical attention, including a bandage, because he was bleeding from the back of his head. Within a few minutes, Gurney was moving his hands, and he was conscious as paramedics wheeled him from the sixth-floor courtroom at the federal courthouse and off to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Davis continued Bohner's case, and his sentencing will be rescheduled.
Synthes is a Swiss-based company with facilities and U.S. headquarters in West Chester. It is being acquired by health-care giant Johnson & Johnson for $21.3 billion.