The Massachusetts chemist who admitted to tampering with drug tests at a state police lab was arrested Friday, the Associated Press reports.Annie Dookhan, 34, tested more than 60,000 drug samples submitted in the cases of about 34,000 defendants over nine years. The scandal has thrown thousands of criminal cases into doubt and prompted the shutdown of the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston last month.
Three officials, including the state’s public health commissioner, resigned.
“Her actions totally turned the system on its head,” Attorney General Martha Coakley told the AP, adding there is no indication so far of criminal activity by anyone else at the lab.
Dookhan was arrested at her home about 40 miles southwest of Boston after telling police that for two to three years she “intentionally turned a negative sample into a positive a few times,” identified drug samples by looking at them instead of testing them, contaminated samples to get more work finished and saying drug evidence was heavier than it actually was, according to the AP.
Dookhan is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, which is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. She is also charged with pretending to hold a degree for a college or university—she reportedly fabricated a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts— which is punishable by as much as a year in jail.
The office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick identified 1,141 inmates in Massachusetts jails and prisons convicted based on evidence handled by Dookhan.
AP reports that more than a dozen drug defendants are back on the street while their attorneys challenge the charges based on Dookhan’s misconduct and many more defendants are expected to be released.
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