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A long tale of intrigue involving the former Guidant Corp.'s controversial 2005 recall of heart defibrillators could end Wednesday morning in a St. Paul courtroom.

In an agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice last year, Guidant (now part of Boston Scientific Corp.) pleaded guilty to two federal criminal charges related to the recall, including making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the devices' safety.

The company, which employs about 5,000 Minnesotans, also agreed to pay a $296 million fine. It would have been the largest criminal penalty ever levied in medical technology for violating federal laws.

But last April, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank balked at the agreement, saying it didn't serve the best interests of justice or the public. He sent both sides back to the drawing board.

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