Following the release of more than 300 inmates, Annie Dookhan, a Massachusetts state chemist who used to "process" drug samples almost three times as quickly as her colleagues, pled guilty Friday to fabricating her results. Police estimate her fraud possibly tainted as many as 40,000 prosecutions that she was involved in.
The 35-year-old chemist not only lied about results, declaring untested samples positive, but also tampered with evidence, forged other people's signatures, and lied about her own credentials. She was sentenced to three to five years in prison.
Dookhan's superiors began to suspect something was wrong when they audited her work back in 2010 due to her unusually fast case turnover. Although the audit revealed no wrongdoing, she was caught forging a coworker's initials just a year later. Dookhan was suspended, but still allowed to testify as an expert witness in criminal cases.
It took more than a year-and-a-half after Dookhan's suspension for Dookhan — who the judge described as "a tragic and broken person who has been undone by her own ambition” — to admit that she had fabricated case results.
Since then, more than 300 people have been released, including Donta Hood, who was accused of murdering someone after Dookhan's tainted evidence got him released. Hood is now back behind bars on first-degree murder charges.
At least 50 of those 300 released have been rearrested. One, Jamell Spurill told the police arresting him, “I just got out thanks to Annie Dookhan. I love that lady.”
[image via AP]