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Mass. governor expects charges in lab scandal
Supervisors suspended Ms. Dookhan’s lab duties in June 2011, when she was caught forging a colleague’s initials on paperwork after taking 90 drug samples from evidence, according to police. But she told police later she disobeyed orders and continued to access an evidence database and give law enforcement officials information on their cases.
On Aug. 30, Mr. Patrick ordered state police to close the lab.
That day, a police lieutenant spoke with Ms. Dookhan to tell her she should get a lawyer because she could face criminal charges.
Ms. Dookhan cried on the phone. She said she was involved in a long divorce from her husband, didn’t have money and didn’t know any lawyers.
Anne Goldbach from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, which oversees legal representation for indigents, said the interviews included in the police report show the problems at the now-closed Hinton State Laboratory are more troubling than originally believed. She said it appears there was unsupervised access to the evidence office and safe.
“It calls into question all the testing done by the lab,” she said.
He said that in four cases Ms. Dookhan determined the weight of the drug sample was just 1 gram above the amount needed for a more serious penalty even though police reports made the seizure seem smaller.
Concerns from Ms. Dookhan’s colleagues prompted two supervisors to audit her work in 2010, but they just looked at paperwork and didn’t retest drug samples.
Things started to unravel in spring 2011 with the forgery incident. A colleague told police it was “almost like Dookhan wanted to get caught.”
One lab supervisor told police later that he believed Ms. Dookhan had a mental breakdown.
Ms. Dookhan told investigators several times in an August interview that she knew she had done wrong.
“I screwed up big time,” she said, according to the report from investigators for the attorney general’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 Ms. Dookan’s possible motives as their probe continues. She hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment.
By Brahma Chellaney
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