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Mass. Inspector general says state drug test lab had 'sole bad actor'

  |   March 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM
BOSTON, March 4 (UPI) -- A report on Massachusetts state drug testing lab released Tuesday cited convicted lab tech Annie Dookhan as the "sole bad actor" in mishandling of evidence.

The report concluded the 40,323 cases in which Dookhan was involved should be "treated as suspect and subject to careful review."

State Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha called Dookhan the "sole bad actor" at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain, Mass., but added the lab "lacked formal and uniform protocols. This lack of direction ... allowed chemists to create their own insufficient, discordant practices," the Boston Globe reported.

Dookhan was sentenced to prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to 27 counts of misleading investigators, filing false reports and tampering with evidence. Her crimes led to requests by thousands of defendants for their convictions to be thrown out, or for new trials. The state has spent millions of dollars reviewing the cases and holding special hearings, the Globe reported.

The report indicated the lab had management problems, raising questions about evidence in 2,300 court cases.

It said lab workers improperly estimated the weight of drugs seized as evidence, adding the lab's methods may have been flawed, leading to lengthy sentences for some defendants who may not have possessed drugs in large enough quantities to warrant such charges.

"We may have people in prison who ought not be there, and we are never really going to know for sure. There is still going to be a dark cloud over the lab," said Martin Healy, general counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.

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