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Mass. drug lab allegedly mishandled cases

Sept. 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

BOSTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Massachusetts officials say they are preparing to reopen potentially thousands of closed cases due to the alleged mishandling of evidence at a drug lab.

Prosecutors said a chemist at the Jamaica Plain laboratory, which tested and housed drug evidence in as many as 34,000 criminal cases, had mixed samples from various cases and doctored evidence to affect defendants' sentences, The Boston Globe reported.

Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, is conducting a criminal investigation of the chemist, Annie Dookhan, the report said. In the meantime, police and prosecutors are bracing for a wave of motions to reopen convictions on cases in which Dookhan tested drug evidence.

The end result could be convicted felons being released from prison, the newspaper said.

"A lot of officers, quite frankly, risk their lives doing drug work, executing search warrants and so forth," Deputy Chief David Lizotte of the New Bedford Police Department told the Globe. "To have a good case undone because of something that happened at the lab would be unfortunate."

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