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Natick legislator to oversee House probe into Jamaica Plain crime lab

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 19, 2012 11:23 AM

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A Natick legislator will oversee the state's House of Representative's investigation into the Jamaica Plain state laboratory scandal.

Representative David Linsky is chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, which is charged with overseeing the work of state agencies to make sure they are operating properly, Linsky said over the phone on Tuesday.

Linsky said that the committee is already working on their investigation, noting that he has directed committee staff to start assembling documents and conducting interviews.

"Our focus is not on who did what, but on if there is a systemic problem that needs to be corrected," he said.

The scandal at the Jamaica Plain state lab has been unfolding as allegations have been made that a chemist there, Annie Dookhan, mishandled drug samples and tainted up to 60,000 drug samples representing 34,000 criminal cases.

Certain health officials affiliated with the lab have left one by one, including lab director Dr. Linda L. Han and director of analytical chemistry Julie Nassif.

State Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach also announced this week that he will resign in the wake of the scandal.

Linsky said the House's investigation will be far-reaching.

"We’re going to look at the issue to see if this is a systemic problem in the way drugs are handled, or if it's just the action of one or more employees," he said.

Linsky, a Democrat, also noted that although he primarily represents the Natick area, he plans to treat the investigation as a statewide issue.

"People need 100 percent confidence in state crime labs and Department of Public Health labs, so we need to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that’s the case," he said.

Linsky said he did know how long the committee will probe the subject.

"We'll go wherever the facts take us," he said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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