Norfolk prosecutor with ties to Dookhan resigns

FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 file photo, Annie Dookhan, center, is leaves a Boston courthouse escorted by court officers and her lawyer. Dookhan is accused of faking drug results, forging signatures and mixing samples at a state police lab. State police say Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples involving 34,000 defendants during her nine years at Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds, File)
Annie Dookhan’s motives for allegedly mishandling drug evidence remain a mystery, officials say.
Josh Reynolds/AP

The Norfolk County prosecutor who carried on an unauthorized phone and e-mail correspondence with controversial state chemist Annie Dookhan resigned today, saying he did not want to be “a further distraction” from the investigation into criminal misconduct in the state drug lab in Jamaica Plain.

George Papachristos, an assistant district attorney who prosecuted numerous drug cases in which Dookhan provided the drug analysis, exchanged dozens of emails with Dookhan, some of them veering into personal subjects, including Dookhan’s troubled marriage. At one point, Dookhan’s husband contacted Papachristos directly, apparently out of concern that the two were having an affair. However, State Police have concluded the two did not have an affair and Papachristos insisted that the relationship was strictly professional.

Papachristos, 37, turned in his resignation today to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who agreed to accept it.

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“George Papachristos communicated that he does not wish to be a further distraction from the central issue of the criminal conduct that has been alleged and the complete breakdown of supervision that allowed it to continue,” Morrissey said in a statement.

Dookhan’s alleged mishandling of evidence at the state drug lab has thrown the state’s justice system into turmoil. She was involved in drug testing for tens of thousands of cases over her career at the now-closed lab. A number of drug convicts have already been released from custody because of questions about the handling of evidence in their cases.

The revelation of Dookhan’s relationship with Papachristos may give defense attorneys even more ammunition to throw out drug convictions involving her work, the Globe reported this morning.