Former Chemist Annie Dookhan Arrested In State Drug Testing Lab Scandal
FRANKLIN (CBS/AP) – A former state lab chemist who admitted faking drug sample results, forging signatures and skipping proper procedures was arrested at her home in Franklin late Friday morning.
WBZ News Radio 1030’s Mark Katic reports
Annie Dookhan, 34, is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of falsely pretending to hold a degree from a college or university.
The warrants were issued out of Boston Municipal Court, where she was arraigned Friday afternoon. She was released after her family posted the $10,000 cash bail.
State Police went to Dookhan’s home Friday morning and took her out in handcuffs just before noon. She was taken away in a trooper’s cruiser to the State Police barracks in Foxboro.
Her husband yelled at reporters to leave his property and then slammed the front door on them.
Investigators say Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples submitted in the cases of about 34,000 defendants during her nine years at the Hinton State Laboratory in Jamaica Plain.
Watch: Raw Video of Dookhan Arrest
She resigned in March during an internal investigation. Gov. Deval Patrick ordered state police to close the lab on August 30.
The scandal has thrown thousands of drug convictions into question.
Already, judges have reduced bail and put sentences on hold in approximately 20 cases handled by Dookhan.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Nathan says he now questions the convictions of four clients since Dookhan certified their drug samples.
“What more damaging thing could exist than to suddenly learn that it is a perjured document,” says Nathan. “As a consequence the perjurer is going to do a lot of prison time.”
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Attorney General Martha Coakley said Dookhan was arrested because she lied about the integrity of drug evidence that she analyzed at the lab in two instances.
“This is not the end of the charging,” Coakley said, adding that the goal is to “get to the bottom of what happened.”
Dookhan told investigators several times in an August interview that she knew she had done wrong.
Watch: WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports
“I screwed up big time,” she said, according to the report from investigators for Coakley’s office.
“I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”
Authorities haven’t commented on her possible motives, but Coakley said ego did play a role.
According to a criminal complaint Dookhan told investigators she intentionally turned a negative sample into a positive sample in some cases. She said she would try and “clean it up” by making a more concentrated sample or using “more of the sample.”
The Suffolk District attorney’s office cites two affected cases. Commonwealth versus Larry Blue, a 2011 conviction on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm as a third offense, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of a Class D substance, and trafficking cocaine. Blue is serving 10 years in state prison on the gun charge and five years concurrently on the drugs.
The second case is Commonwealth versus Jeffrey Banks, a 2011 indictment charging the defendant with distribution of a Class B substance and possession of a Class B substance with intent to distribute as a second offense.
Banks’ case is expected to return to Suffolk Superior Court on October 5 when prosecutors will file a “nolle prosequi” terminating the case in light of re-testing of the evidence in the case. That evidence was certified as cocaine by the chemist but found to be negative in subsequent testing by the State Police.
Dookhan hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment.
The false degree charge is related to Dookhan’s claim under oath that she had earned a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, but school officials said on Tuesday that they have no record of her receiving an advanced degree or taking graduate courses there.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)