Chemist Admits to Mass Misconduct

An analyst that worked for a state drug lab in Massachusetts has confessed to mishandling evidence in tens of thousands of drug cases.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Sep 27, 2012

About 34,000 drug cases in the Massachusetts legal system are imperiled by the misconduct of a single chemist who used to work in a now-shuttered Department of Public Health lab. Annie Dookhan, a chemist whose job was to analyze evidence gathered during arrests and investigations in narcotics cases, has admitted to improperly removing evidence from storage lockers, failing to perform proper tests on the drug evidence, and forging colleagues signatures for "two or three years," according to a State Police report obtained by the Boston Globe. “I messed up. I messed up bad. It’s my fault,” Dookhan told the state troopers last month (August 28), insisting that she acted alone. “I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”

But Dookhan's sweeping misconduct caused the closure of the Jamaica Plain lab in August, and many of her supervisors have resigned or have been fired in the wake of the...

According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick's investigators have identified 1,141 inmates currently in state prisons or county jails based on evidence handled by Dookhan. Many more await trials now complicated by the scandal.

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