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Massachusetts Chemist Admits Altering Drug Test Results

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A Massachusetts chemist accused of mishandling drug test results has admitted wrongdoing, The Boston Globe reports. Annie Dookhan says she changed test results, did not perform proper testing, and forged colleagues’ initials for two to three years.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in Massachusetts are faced with reevaluating more than 34,000 drug cases that were handled by Dookhan. They are starting with 1,140 cases of people already in prison, based on evidence that is potentially tainted. David Meier, a defense attorney and former prosecutor who has been appointed to help deal with these cases, said it is not known how many samples may have been tainted.

According to the newspaper, a report by the State Police notes that Dookhan’s colleagues were long suspicious of her work habits. She tested several times more drug samples each month than the average chemist. Her supervisors took little action for more than a year, although they had evidence that she lied on her resume, and removed drug evidence without proper authorization.

Dookhan admitted that she breached testing protocol when police questioned her in August. Chemist Michael Lawler told police that while the average chemist could analyze 50 to 150 samples per month, Dookhan was analyzing more than 500. He counted the number of slides Dookhan was discarding, and realized there were too few for the numbers of tests she said she was performing. That suggested she was recording fake test results. Lawler brought his concerns to Dookhan’s immediate supervisor, who told him the chemist was taking work home and skipping lunch and breaks to get the work done.

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