Swiss billionaire and Clinton donor Hansjorg Wyss sat in a packed Washington State courtroom Monday to face his first trial over unsuspecting patients who died when his company used an illegal medical substance. Ultimately, five people died.
Four of Wyss’ executives went to prison in the federal case, but Wyss walked free.
A woman who accompanied Wyss to Lisbon, Portugal in July 2010 told The Daily Caller News Foundation the Swiss citizen collapsed when he received a phone call from his lawyers telling him the Department of Justice would not indict him. She reported he was “deliriously happy” at a dinner after the call.
At the time he told the woman the government didn’t have enough evidence on him. “They do not have enough on me. They don’t have enough emails on me,” he reportedly said.
Her riveting account about Wyss’ state-of-mind during the Justice Department investigation was given several years ago in a private meeting with this reporter.
Interest in the case has been driven by the fact that Wyss, whose net worth is estimated at $6 billion, is politically connected to the Clintons and to John Podesta, her national campaign manager.
Wyss and his top surgeon, Dr. Jens Chapman, now face state charges they ran a “criminal racketeering enterprise” in which they pursued a series of illegal surgeries in the pursuit of profits in the death of Reba Golden.
Golden, age 67, died when Chapman inserted a bonelike cement into her spine that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Four other patients died on operating tables when the company conducted the same operations.
The trial in Seattle began on Monday before King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers.
In the federal case filed in 2009, a grand jury identified Wyss as “Person No. 7” who as CEO of Synthes, Inc., instructed his staff to carry out the illegal procedures despite the lack of FDA approval. A federal judge overseeing the federal case characterized the operations as “rogue clinical trials.”
Federal judge Legrome D. Davis said at the 2011 sentencing of the four executives who went to prison that “in search of profits, (Synthes) chose not to tell the FDA the truth.”
The acting U.S. Attorney on the case stated at the time, “As the Court found, these senior managers knew about and participated in unlawful human experimentation that disregarded the safety of all members of society.”
The human experimentation charge was repeated on Monday by the lawyers for Golden’s daughter Cynthia Wilson, who is suing on behalf of her mother.
Unbeknownst to Golden, Chapman was not an independent surgeon but was a paid consultant to Wyss’ company and received a $2 million “endowment” from Synthes for a chair at the University of Washington where he still sits. The university is a defendant in the state case.
Prior to using the substance on people, Chapman conducted tests for Synthes by inserting the material into pigs. All the pigs died.
Despite his company’s disregard for federal safety laws, Wyss enjoys political connections to prominent Democrats, including those in the Obama and Clinton administrations.
In 2013 Wyss committed $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and has given at least $4 million to Podesta’s Center for American Progress. The Swiss citizen has a seat on CAP’s 12-person board.
The reclusive Swiss businessman hired away a top Clinton administration environmental figure, Mollie McUsic to run his private foundation. He also has given hundreds of millions to scores of other activist liberal organizations across the country. In 2013 Wyss paid Podesta $87,000 in consulting fees, according to a White House financial disclosure form.
Last week, a Wyss Foundation memo surfaced reportedly from computers at the Democratic National Committee that shows the Swiss citizen promised to spend $100 million on U.S. voter registration “to alter the electorate.”
Although foreigners are barred by law from donating to election campaigns, a loophole permits foreign citizens who run foundations to give unlimited funds to activist groups and even to finance voter registration drives.
In January the conservative group Citizens United sought to obtain Justice Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act explaining why Wyss escaped prosecution. The department refused to release any documents.
Jacqueline Long, a former employee who also had a long-term romantic relationship with Wyss told TheDCNF he never expressed remorse to her about the deaths. Instead, he seemed to care only about his own future.
Long had charged that Wyss physically abused her and neglected her daughter Callie, who he promised and later reneged to help who was suffering from drug addiction. Callie died in 2013 at the age of 27.
Wass settled the abuse case in a confidential $1.5 million settlement between himself and Long.
Long said Wyss was agitated in 2010 because board members wanted to remove him from the Synthes board in light of the indictment against Synthes.
“He discussed it with me because people wanted to throw him off the board. He was completely frightened. He was scared to death every time the phone rang,” she recalled.
“His fear of people throwing him off the board was unbelievable. In January (2010) he came into the house and he was just shaking. He was just paralyzed with the fact that he was going to be thrown out of Synthes.”
Long claimed Wyss never expressed remorse over the deaths. “He doesn’t have any remorse. It was only always about power and control. It’s the fight. He loves the fight.”
She said Wyss also was angry he was being pursued by a woman, Mary Crawley, who was a U.S. Attorney assigned to the Synthes case.
“He was only angry that it was a woman who was going after him, Mary Crawley. You should have heard him. ‘This woman, this woman, she’s after me. She the one who is doing it in Washington, D.C.’”
Wyss had contempt for Crawley. “It was total contempt. It was all her fault,” she recalled.
Long said on July 7, 2010 she was with Wyss in their suite at the Le Corinthia hotel in Lisbon. The Synthes CEO was in Lisbon along with Michel Orsinger, his Chief Operating Officer, to attend an international medical conference of surgeons who specialize in the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal system.
Long claims the call came when they were in their hotel room at about 3 o’clock.
“And in the call, he is saying, ‘Oh my God, Oh my God.’ And he fell to the floor on his knees and I thought he was having heart attack,” Long recalled.
She asked Wyss about the call, and he reportedly yelled, ’They’re not going to indict me! They’re not going to indict me!’
“And I asked, ‘indict you over what?’ And he said, ‘over the deaths, over the Synthes’ thing,’ he said.
“And then, when he’s on his knees, I asked, ‘Are you OK?’”
“You don’t get it,’ he told me. You don’t understand,” Wyss reportedly said. “Remember, I told you? I made the call on that drug and I was going to prison. You don’t understand.’”
“And I helped get him off the floor and then later on he was coughing up blood,” she said.
At dinner that followed with Orsinger, “he was deliriously happy because he wasn’t being indicted. He repeated, ‘I am not being indicted.’ Those were the words,” she said.
“He said, ‘they do not have enough on me. They don’t have enough emails on me.’ He said that twice.”
Long says they did not talk about it again until a year later when four Synthes executives were fined and sentenced to prison terms.
At the time she says she said to him,” I take it these people are getting paid off and their kids were all going to college.’ And he just looked at me and nodded. He didn’t say yes or no.”
Kenneth Lambert, a long-time personal friend of Wyss and a Synthes medical consultant tried to warn the Swiss CEO that the surgeries were morally and legally wrong.
“I was a friend saying ‘look out,” he recalled in an interview this week with TheDCNF. “I was speaking as a friend.”
Lambert said once he delivered the warning to Wyss “I quickly understood I was the third rail. He didn’t want to hear the criticism. I was totally stonewalled. I never heard from him again.”
Lambert eventually became a star witness for the government. On Tuesday, he was seen in a videotaped deposition that was shown in the Washington state courtroom.
Wyss also was in the court on Monday. He was reportedly dressed very casually, a trademark look he presented in public even though he is a billionaire.
Chapman on the other hand was immaculately dressed for the hearing.
Michael Madden, a lawyer representing Chapman and the university, told the court that the surgeon was not indicted in the federal case and “was not involved in the criminal enterprise that led to the federal prosecution of Synthes.”
The trial is expected to last eight weeks.
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