Three Years and Counting on Failure to Prosecute Poul Thorsen

April 14, 2014

Office of Inspector General Most Wanted List for Over a Year, but Still No Results

thorsonDr. Poul Thorsen, Principal Investigator on the Danish Autism Studies, extends his unwarranted freedom from prosecution as another anniversary on his indictment for 22 counts of wire fraud and money laundering by a U.S. Federal Grand Jury passes on April 13.

SafeMinds calls upon the US Department of Justice and the US Department of State to bring Dr. Thorsen back to the United States and to justice. We also call upon Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to take up this issue as an oversight activity this year. We believe this warrants a Congressional hearing to understand this failure to fully address the allegations, to determine if others at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were complicit, and to address the failure of the CDC and the scientific community to investigate all of the studies from this project while holding current findings in deferral until fully investigated.

Following Thorsen’s indictment in 2011, SafeMinds issued a statement calling for an independent review of vaccine/autism research for data manipulation and conflicts of interest. To review those comments, click HERE. A year later a full report delivered to Chairman Issa, the Committee and other members of Congress outlined the issues. For that detailed report on Poul Thorsen, click HERE. In 2013, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS/OIG) elevated Thorsen to the top of their “Most Wanted” List. Information from the OIG may be viewed HERE.

A Brief Background on the Indictment: The Criminal Indictment No. 1:11-C R-194 United States of America v. Poul Thorsen states that beginning around February 2004 and continuing through February 2010, that Thorsen ‘aided and abetted by others known and unknown, did knowingly devise and intend to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises and omissions of material facts, well knowing and having reason to know that said pretenses, representations and promises were and would be false and fraudulent…’ The indictment provides that Thorsen submitted false invoices and created private invoices (from a CDC laboratory using false signatures). He is alleged to have stolen more than $1 million from a CDC grant to Denmark he helped establish while working at CDC. If convicted on all counts, Thorsen could face up to 260 years in prison and $22.5 million in fines.

Three years after this indictment: no extradition, no trial, and no verdict on Thorsen. It still remains unknown if others from CDC were part of his scheme. We do know that Dr. Diana Schendel, Thorsen’s champion at the CDC when he first arrived, and who continued to publish as a co-author on papers with him after the indictment, has resigned her CDC position and accepted a position with Thorsen’s former employer Aarhus University in Denmark.

About Poul Thorsen: As noted in the SafeMinds report submitted to Congress in 2012, Thorsen developed a strong relationship with his CDC colleagues while serving as a visiting scientist. Thorsen successfully promoted the idea of awarding research funds to Aarhus University in Denmark to study the relationship between autism and vaccines before returning to the university to lead the project. Keep in mind, the CDC was under immense pressure to respond to the public outcry to the autism epidemic and the link between thimerosal and autism, and vaccine injury and autism. SafeMinds was among those pointing out the inherent conflict of interest for CDC with monitoring the safety of vaccines while also promoting vaccines. Thorsen, from what is known about the case, played on the urgency of the situation. Without his findings, vaccine safety becomes highly suspect.

HHS and DOJ Continue to Use Thorsen’s Research to Deny Vaccine Injury Compensation: The Thorsen-led Danish studies affect the autism community significantly by substantiating the government’s arguments in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. SafeMinds and many in the autism scientific community had called the quality and outcomes in the Danish studies into question even before the Federal indictment. The Danish Studies, along with the Verstraeten paper, were the basis for the IOM’s rejection of an autism-vaccine injury/thimerosal link. Furthermore, these studies, and the IOM’s findings were the basis of the evidence presented by the Justice Department on behalf of Health and Human Services which denied 5,000 families justice in the in the Autism Omnibus proceedings of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). SafeMinds believes that no research paper co-authored by Thorsen should be used by the government for defining vaccine injury. While failing to bring him to justice, it remains unconscionable that the very Justice Department responsible for indicting him and for prosecuting his case, continue to use papers he co-authored to substantiate legal decisions that absolve vaccine damage.

Thorsen Remains Free and Continues to Publish Research: Poul Thorsen is not in hiding. He remains a free man, living in the open and working in Denmark. SafeMinds confirmed last year that he works at the Sygehus Lillebaelt Hospital in Kolding, Denmark. He has continued to co-author research as recently as October 2013. Papers topics include autism, some with his former CDC colleague, Dr. Diana Schendel while she remained at the CDC. For at least the second time since his indictment, Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons have included his work in their annual meeting. His co-author presented earlier this month at their 2014 annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The evidence (P105) is present in the final program HERE on page 128. The United States’ good relations with Denmark should have allowed the Justice and State Departments to bring Poul Thorsen to justice within three years.

As we approach the middle of Autism Awareness Month we can make this week, “Bring Thorsen to Justice Week”. Consider making two calls: (1) Call the White House (Switchboard: 202-456-1414) and ask President Obama instruct Secretary Kerry and Attorney General Holder to bring Thorsen back to the United States and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. (2) Call Congressman Darrell Issa (Washington Office: 202-225-3906) and request that he conduct a hearing on Poul Thorsen before the summer ends. You might also consider posting a message to Congressman Issa’s Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/darrellissa. Let us know in the comments section what happens with your calls.