Friday, October 18, 2013

A few years in jail for a serious crime--Annie Dookhan

"Mass. lab scandal defendant asks for leniency"

October 18th, 2013


Prosecutors are urging a judge to sentence a Massachusetts chemist to up to seven years in prison if she pleads guilty in a drug-testing lab scandal.

Annie Dookhan faces allegations including tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and perjury for alleging faking test results at a now-closed state lab.

She previously pleaded not guilty to 27 criminal charges.

Her lawyer on Friday urged a judge to consider a one-year sentence if Dookhan changes her plea, saying the defendant's life "has been destroyed" by the charges.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball says she'll consider the recommendations and decide next week about what sentence she would likely give to Dookhan if she pleads guilty.

Dookhan cried as her lawyer pleaded for leniency, describing her love for her 7-year-old son.

Lawyers on both sides of the case of a chemist accused of putting thousands of criminal prosecutions in jeopardy by faking test results at a state drug lab will argue Friday to sentence her to years in prison or months in jail.

Annie Dookhan is charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and perjury for alleging faking test results at a now-closed state lab.

A judge is scheduled to meet with prosecutors and Dookhan's lawyer Friday to discuss their sentencing recommendations if Dookhan decides to plead guilty.

In a sentencing memo filed Thursday, prosecutors say they will recommend five to seven years in state prison. Dookhan's lawyer says he will recommend a year in  jail.

At least 1,100 criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the shutdown of the lab where Dookhan worked.

Prosecutors from state Attorney General Martha Coakley's office say Dookhan caused "egregious damage" to the state's criminal justice system. State officials have estimated Dookhan tested samples involving more than 40,000 suspects during her nine years at the lab.

Dookhan, of Franklin, signed a statement to state police in which she admitted making some negative samples positive for narcotics and "dry labbing," or testing some samples for drugs and assuming others were positive.

She has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges.

The lobby conference scheduled with the judge Friday does not mean Dookhan will definitely change her plea. Both sides are expected to make their sentencing recommendations, hear from the judge, and then await a decision from Dookhan on whether she will plead guilty.

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