State Drug Lab Chemist Arrested for Obstruction of Justice
Employee at Hinton State Lab Allegedly Lied About Integrity of Evidence, Her Qualifications
BOSTON – A former chemist at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute has been arrested on charges she obstructed justice by lying about the integrity of evidence as well as about her educational qualifications, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.
Listen to press conference audio:
Annie Dookhan, 34, of Franklin, was arrested at her home today, without incident, by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office. She is charged with Obstruction of Justice (Misleading a Jury, Judge, Prosecutor, and Defense Lawyer), Obstruction of Justice (Misleading a Prosecutor), and Falsely Pretending to Hold a Degree from a College or University.
“Annie Dookhan’s alleged actions corrupted the integrity of the criminal justice system,” AG Coakley said. “A fair and effective justice system not only protects those directly involved in the courts, but the public’s safety beyond it. The public deserves a criminal justice system that they can trust, and we are committed to holding those responsible for this breakdown accountable and fixing it moving forward.”
In July, the AG’s Office began a criminal investigation into the matter after there were allegations of impropriety at the Hinton State Laboratory. Dookhan was employed as a chemist in the drug analysis unit of the Hinton State Lab in Jamaica Plain, which tested drug evidence submitted by law enforcement across the state. In her capacity as a chemist, Dookhan would analyze drug evidence and at times testified in court as to her findings.
Authorities allege that in March of 2011, Dookhan tested samples from a Suffolk County narcotics case and determined the samples to be cocaine. Investigation revealed that she issued and signed two certificates of analysis under a notary seal that the samples were cocaine. Dookhan forwarded those certificates and her curriculum vitae, which stated that she had a master’s in chemistry, to the prosecutor’s office. Further testing done within the last week by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory determined that both substances were negative for illegal narcotics.
Authorities also allege that in August 2010 in Suffolk Superior Court, Dookhan testified under oath before a jury, judge, prosecutor and defense lawyer and stated that she had a master’s of chemistry from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Dookhan allegedly reaffirmed that statement during cross-examination. However, further investigation revealed that she did not hold a master’s from University of Massachusetts nor was she ever enrolled as a student in master’s level classes.
In the spring of 2011, Dookhan allegedly tested a drug sample from a case and determined the sample to be cocaine. According to investigators, when the sample was then tested by a mass spectrometry, a machine that analyzes suspected narcotics to confirm test results done by the original chemist, the samples twice tested negative for cocaine.
Dookhan was arrested today by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office. She will be arraigned this afternoon in Boston Municipal Court.
These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The criminal case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General John Verner, Chief of AG Coakley’s Criminal Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Anne Kaczmarek of AG Coakley’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division. It is being investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.