Former state chemist Annie Dookhan triggered a crisis in the state’s criminal justice system that has set convicted drug dealers free and may cost tens of millions of dollars to fix.
Dookhan, 34, of Franklin, who allegedly mishandled evidence she was supposed to test at a state drug lab, has been indicted by a grand jury on 17 counts of obstruction of justice, as well as 10 other charges, including tampering with evidence, perjury, and falsely pretending to hold a degree from a college or university, prosecutors said.
Dookhan allegedly “dry labbed’’ seized drugs, falsely certifying that she performed the required testing of seized suspected contraband when, in fact, she had not tested, but had merely made a visual examination.
Dookhan also allegedly tainted samples by mixing substances she knew were illegal drugs with samples she knew did not contain illegal substances. She also allegedly forged the initials of a supervisor on reports in an attempt to cover up her misdeeds.
Law officials are still bracing for the consequences. Immigrants convicted of drug charges may have already been deported. Property seized in drug cases may have already been sold off. And even jury selection in future drug trials could be affected. The scandal could put felons back on the streets, inundate courts, and damage public confidence in the justice system. Scores of officials and lab workers have resigned or been fired already.
Pictured: Annie Dookhan at her arraignment in September.
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