Less than a year after Massachusetts state laboratory chemist Annie Dookhan was arrested and prosecuted for alleged mishandling of evidence that led to more than 300 convicted inmates being released, another state chemist has been charged with tampering with evidence and stealing drugs seized as evidence.
Dookhan, arrested in September, had worked at the William Hinton State Lab in Jamaica Plain before she was dismissed. Although Dookhan has not been found guilty, concerns about her work prompted Attorney General Martha Coakley to recommend a full review of the lab. In total, 534 cases have been reexamined.
The same process is now underway in the case of the second state chemist under investigation, who once worked with Dookhan at the Hinton lab, and more recently at an Amherst lab. Authorities allege that she lost evidence and, mixed drug evidence samples with counterfeit drugs to hide her theft. She has been charged with cocaine possession. Chemistry World reports:
‘Every case she handled now has a huge question mark around it,’ says Josh Lee, a criminal defense attorney and founding partner of law firm Ward, Lee and Coats. ‘Such an individual is not going to be concerned with good laboratory practices or proper evidence handling and testing,’ he adds.
The Hinton State Lab has been closed since August and the Amherst lab was closed in January, pending further investigations.