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Boston and Beyond

August 21, 2013

Review: More cases linked to lab scandal

BOSTON (AP) — A disgraced former state chemist may have tainted more prosecutions than officials had first estimated, an independent reviewer of narcotics cases said Tuesday.

More than 40,000 defendants may have been affected by the chemist’s mishandling of samples, said David Meier, an attorney appointed by the Massachusetts governor last fall to review prosecutions connected to the state lab scandal.

Meier, a former prosecutor who led a file-by-file review of narcotics cases in which Annie Dookhan tested samples, submitted his final report along with a database of defendants who had potentially been affected. The names will not be made public, but will be available to prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges so that “fundamental fairness can be done in the courtrooms,” he said.

Authorities had previously estimated publicly that Dookhan had tested samples involving about 34,000 defendants.

They have alleged that Dookhan tampered with evidence and faked results during her nine years at the now-closed Boston lab. Dookhan, 35, of Franklin, has pleaded not guilty to a 27-count indictment related to her alleged wrongdoing in cases stemming from six counties.

Gov. Deval Patrick thanked Meier for his work to try to help resolve the legal morass.

“Now, with this detailed information, the many participants in the criminal justice system can do the work of getting each individual case right,” Patrick said in a statement Tuesday.

Administration officials also said Tuesday that the state had spent $7.6 million to date in dealing with the crisis, with another $2.8 million approved for expenditure. The Legislature has authorized up to $30 million to cover costs incurred by the court system, prosecutors, public defenders and other state agencies.

Meier’s law firm of Todd & Weld was separately paid $12,500 per month during the review, the governor’s office said.

A year ago, Patrick ordered the lab closed after state police took over the facility through a budget directive and uncovered what they called Dookhan’s failure to follow testing protocols and her deliberate mishandling of evidence.

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