Sally Yates’s Legacy of Injustice at the Department of Justice
I quit. Friday I walk away from the company I started 20 years ago and grew into 650 U.S. employees and $1 billion in sales of over 100 new medical devices. I didn’t quit because I’m old—I’m 56—or want to play golf. The reason I sold my company and ended a career I loved is to avoid the risk of being criminally prosecuted under the federal government’s “responsible corporate officer” doctrine for the second time.
In 2010 federal prosecutors latched onto a false accusation of “off-label” promotion made by a disgruntled former employee. Armed with a joke of a grand-jury system, they parlayed that into a criminal indictment of me and my company, Vascular Solutions. To pressure us to settle, prosecutors interviewed and threatened more than 100 employees and customers, a slog that required my company to hire 121 lawyers at a cost of $25 million.
The “crime” for which they indicted me was a few salespersons’ words about our Vari-Lase Short Kit. Prosecutors claimed that my company’s salespeople told physicians the kit should be used to treat perforator rather than saphenous varicose veins. The prosecutors continued to pursue the case even though their own experts admitted that the kit was FDA-cleared to treat all varicose veins, that it never harmed a patient, and that it constituted 0.1% of our sales. Federal prosecutors told our attorneys they had “invested their blood, sweat and tears” and needed “a body” in return. That body was me.