Annie Dookhan Pleads Guilty to Tampering with Evidence, Obstruction of Justice
Judge Sentences Former State Drug Lab Chemist to Three to Five Years in Prison
BOSTON – Annie Dookhan, a former chemist at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute, pleaded guilty to 27 charges and was sentenced to state prison in connection with altering drug evidence during the testing process and obstructing justice, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.
Dookhan, 36, of Franklin, pleaded guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court to charges of Obstruction of Justice (17 counts), Tampering with Evidence (8 counts), Perjury, and Falsely Pretending to Hold a Degree from a College or University.
After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball sentenced Dookhan to three to five years in state prison, with two years of probation to be served upon completion of that sentence. The sentence exceeds the state sentencing guidelines, which indicates a one to three year sentence for an individual with no criminal history and no violent offenses. The AG’s office, however, had recommended a five to seven year sentence due to aggravating factors including the “extensive collateral repercussions.”
“Annie Dookhan’s egregious misconduct sent ripple effects throughout our entire criminal justice system,” AG Coakley said. “Her deliberate decision to tamper with drug evidence and fabricate test results harmed the integrity of the system and put the public’s safety at risk.”
In July 2012, the AG’s Office began a criminal investigation into the matter after 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 testify in court as to her findings.
The investigation revealed that Dookhan tampered with evidence by altering the substances in the vials that were being tested at the lab. Investigators identified six specific instances where Dookhan tampered with the testing vials, five originating in Suffolk County and one in Bristol County. Investigators were able to retest samples to corroborate this because Dookhan only altered the substances while they were in the testing vials. She did not alter the original samples. Dookhan also tampered with evidence when she sent an altered discovery packet to a prosecutor in a pending criminal case that contained a falsified test.
On another occasion, Dookhan did not follow proper protocol for signing out drug samples from the evidence room, and further tampered with evidence by forging the initials of an evidence officer to cover-up her misconduct.
Dookhan obstructed justice by falsely claiming during 14 separate criminal trials that she held a Master’s in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts. Those trials were held in six counties including Essex, Middlesex, Bristol, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Norfolk. Dookhan testified as an expert witness under oath during legal proceedings and that testimony was relied upon to establish a foundation for her credibility as a drug chemist. Further investigation revealed that she did not hold a Master’s in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts nor was she ever enrolled as a student in master’s level classes.
In two cases, Dookhan obstructed justice by falsely certifying drug analyses when she knew the results were compromised as a result of her tampering with evidence vials. The drug certifications were submitted in court as evidence and relied upon in pending criminal proceedings.
Dookhan was arrested on September 28, 2012 by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office and subsequently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court, where she entered a plea of not guilty and was released on $10,000 cash bail with conditions. She was indicted on December 17, 2012 and arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on December 20, 2012. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in Suffolk Superior Court.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Anne Kaczmarek of AG Coakley’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division and Assistant Attorney General John Verner, Chief of AG Coakley’s Criminal Bureau and investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.
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