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Rep. Goldfinch faces charges in stem cell harvesting case

  • Tuesday, November 26, 2013

  • Updated Friday, November 29, 2013 8:10 am

S.C. Rep. Stephen Goldfinch is facing federal charges after an investigation into alleged illegal mislabeling during stem cell harvesting.

Goldfinch, of Murrells Inlet, is also involved in the biochemistry industry. He started a company called CureSource and later started another company called Caledonia Consulting LLC with a partner.

Both companies, after seeking approval from patients, harvested umbilical cords for research purposes, Goldfinch said Tuesday.

“As we grew, we hired an independent contractor, Dr. Vincent Dammai, to work directly with the laboratory research,” Goldfinch said.

Dammai was reportedly paid nearly $162,000 for his stem cell harvesting for Caledonia from March 2006-December 2008,

“We sold Caledonia while I was in my second year of law school,” Goldfinch said. He said the company sold for $1.2 million.

Earlier this year, Dammai - a Texas-based molecular biologist and former MUSC professor - pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “mislabeling stem cells.”

Goldfinch said Dammai caused the introduction of stem cells into interstate commerce without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Texas is expected to charge Goldfinch with mislabeling and misbranding, he said.

“Unfortunately, the FDA regulations differ from state laws, and provide that partners, like myself, are responsible for their employees or independent contractors, regardless of knowledge or intent,” Goldfinch said. “Therefore, I will have no choice but to plead guilty, since I was a partner and did have responsibility for my wayward contractor.”

Goldfinch said he assisted the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the investigation beginning in early 2012. He said during that investigation it was “discovered others were using the research wrongly.”

Goldfinch admits under the law, he had strict responsibility for contractor’s actions.

“I take responsibility,” Goldfinch stated.

He said he expects he will be hit with a misdemeanor charge and be sentenced to probation.

“I am relieved no one was harmed in the mislabeling and assure you I had the best intentions for the future of medical research in the partnership in the company at that time. While I now regret trusting the wrong people in the conduct of my previous business, I acknowledge and fully accept my responsibility in the matter.”

The Georgetown County Republican Party issued a statement Tuesday supporting Goldfinch.

“Representative Goldfinch continues to be an outstanding legislator and represents well the people and concerns of his constituents in the 108th District. His record of accomplishment has far exceeded that typically achieved by freshman legislators. By accepting responsibility and bringing this matter to a swift conclusion, it will not be a distraction from his work as the General Assembly reconvenes in January,” the statement reads.

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