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Annie Dookhan Considers Changing Plea In Drug Lab Scandal

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A judge is considering arguments by lawyers on both sides of the case of a chemist accused of putting thousands of criminal prosecutions in jeopardy by faking test results at a state drug lab over whether what her punishment should be if she decides to plead guilty.

Annie Dookhan is charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and perjury for alleging faking test results at a now-closed state lab.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

Judge Carol Ball met with prosecutors and Dookhan’s lawyer Friday to discuss their sentencing recommendations if Dookhan decides to plead guilty.

Prosecutors recommended five to seven years in state prison, while Dookhan’s lawyer recommended a year in jail.

Dookhan cried as her lawyer pleaded for leniency, explaining that Dookhan’s husband recently left her for another woman, and describing Dookhan’s love for her 7-year-old son.

“She is a shell of her former self. Before all this happened, she had a promising and well-paid career; a loving and loyal husband; she had a happy and stable and fulfilling family life. That’s all gone,” Dookhan’s attorney told the judge.

Judge Ball responded that Dookhan’s alleged actions caused immeasurable damage, calling her behavior sad and pathetic.

Judge Ball said during the hearing that prison seemed like a better fit for Dookhan, but she was not expected to make a final recommendation until the middle of next week.

At least 1,100 criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the shutdown of the lab where Dookhan worked.

Annie Dookhan in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Oct. 18, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Annie Dookhan in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Oct. 18, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Prosecutors from state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office say Dookhan caused “egregious damage” to the state’s criminal justice system. State officials have estimated Dookhan tested samples involving more than 40,000 suspects during her nine years at the lab.

Dookhan, of Franklin, signed a statement to state police in which she admitted making some negative samples positive for narcotics and “dry labbing,” or testing some samples for drugs and assuming others were positive.

She has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges.

The lobby conference with the judge Friday does not mean Dookhan definitely plans to change her plea.

Dookhan is not expected to make a decision on whether she will plead guilty until she hears from the judge.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 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.)

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