State Drug Lab Chemist Asks Judge for Leniency During Sentencing

Annie Dookhan, a former drug lab chemist for the state of Massachusetts is currently facing a large number of criminal charges which include tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, perjury, faking test results and falsely claiming to hold a degree. The charges were levied after an in-depth investigation revealed that while Dookhan was working at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston between 2002 and 2011, she appears to have played a key role in damaging the evidence connected to thousands of criminal cases which involved close to 40,000 individuals. She is also allegedly responsible for confirming evidence without running the required chemical tests, providing false testimony as an "expert witness" in various criminal trials and tampering with state's evidence.

Since the beginning of the investigation more than 1,100 criminal cases have either been dismissed or charges dropped due to the apparent tainted evidence and the fact that the state laboratory itself has been closed. In addition, many more cases are now coming under heavy scrutiny. So far, Dookhan's actions have allegedly cost the state millions of dollars.

Dookhan originally pled not guilty to all of the charges, however at a recent plea bargaining hearing the judge presiding over Dookhan's case asked both the prosecution and Dookhan's attorneys for their sentencing recommendations should Dookhan decide to change her not guilty plea to guilty. Dookhan and her attorneys asked the judge to show leniency, arguing that Doohkan has already lost her reputation and career, seen her marriage fall apart, has been the subject of much public scrutiny and is extremely anxious about being separated from her disabled son for any significant period of time. Her attorney recommended a 1-year jail sentence. The prosecution on the other hand is seeking a 5-7 year state prison sentence, despite the fact that Massachusetts law allows for a maximum sentence of 10 years for evidence tampering and 20 years for perjury. The judge informed both sides that she would be announcing her final decision within the week.

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