Chemist Admits Tampering With Drug Samples, Tests

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BOSTON (AP)
— A chemist at the center of a scandal at a Massachusetts drug lab
admitted to investigators that she faked test results for two to three
years, forged signatures and bypassed proper procedures, according to a
state police report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The report indicates that Annie Dookhan told police several times that she knew what she had done was wrong.

“I
screwed up big time,” she said, according to the report by
investigators for Attorney General Martha Coakley's office. “I messed up
bad, it's my fault. I don't want the lab to get in trouble.”

Dookhan's
alleged mishandling of drug samples at the lab has thrown thousands of
criminal cases into question, and a handful of defendants already have
been freed or had their sentences suspended.

Dookhan
has not been charged and investigators have not said what her motive
was. She has not responded to repeated requests for comments from the AP
and no one answered the door at her home in Franklin on Tuesday.

State
police say Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples submitted in
the cases of about 34,000 defendants during her nine years at the lab.
She resigned in March amid an internal investigation by the Department
of Public Health.

After state police took over
the lab in July as part of a state budget directive, they said they
discovered her alleged violations were much more extensive than
previously believed and went beyond sloppiness into malfeasance and
deliberate mishandling of drug samples.

In an
interview with investigators in August, Dookhan first denied doing
anything wrong when analyzing drug samples, then changed her story when
they confronted her with a cocaine sample that tested positive in her
analysis but came back negative when retested by the Boston Police
Department.

She admitted doing something
called dry labbing, where she tested some samples properly but just
looked at others and guessed that they were the same drug as the
properly tested ones. If a second test called the results into question,
she would tamper with the drugs by concentrating them or contaminating
them with other drugs so it did not look like she had improperly labeled
them.

“Dookhan explained that this was what she did to get more work done,” investigators wrote in their report.

Dookhan
also told investigators she routinely skirted proper procedures by
looking up data for assistant district attorneys who called her directly
rather than going through the evidence department. She says none ever
asked her to do anything improper in her analysis or findings.

The
report, first obtained by The Boston Globe, says Dookhan told an
investigator she was going through a long divorce and had no money for
an attorney.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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