BOSTON (Reuters) - The first person to face criminal charges linked to a 2012 U.S. meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and sickened 700 in 20 states is due in court on Thursday to respond to claims that he knowingly shipped a tainted medication.

Glenn Adam Chin, 46, a former pharmacist at the now-defunct New England Compound Company, which produced the tainted steroid that sparked the outbreak, was arrested last week as he boarded a flight to Hong Kong for a family wedding./p>

He was charged with one count of mail fraud for approving the shipment of 17,000 tainted vials of the medication, used for back pain, despite knowing they had not been properly sterilized or tested, federal prosecutors in Boston said./p>

His attorney at the time described the arrest as a publicity stunt, saying that Chin, a father of two young children who lives in Canton, Massachusetts, had no plans to flee the country but was simply attending a family function./p>

Chin was ordered to remain under house arrest until his family returned to the United States./p>

The outbreak pushed NECC into bankruptcy and led to stricter national regulation of custom medication makers, which had previously escaped the tight oversight that drug manufacturers face./p>

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)