Former prosecutor will lead drug lab review
A former prosecutor in Middlesex and Suffolk counties will lead the massive review of thousands of drug samples potentially tainted by the work of a chemist who launched a crisis that has already lead to reduced bails and jail time for alleged drug dealers.
David Meier was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick today to lead the drug lab central office. He is currently a partner at Todd & Weld LLP and specializes in the areas of criminal defense and government investigations.
Meier begins immediately and will have the necessary personnel and financial resources to stand up the central office, Patrick’s office said today.
The office will be responsible for cross referencing case files from prosecutors and defense attorneys with drug sample, docket number and other identifying information held by the Department of Public Health, the Trial Courts, the correction, parole, probation and youth services department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other federal partners, according to Patrick’s office.
Cases involving defendants who are currently in jail will be prioritized.
The office, when finished with their work, will provide authorities with a list of impacted cases.
A rogue chemist is accused of mishandling thousands of drug samples that were analyzed at the Jamaica Plain lab. The tainted samples mean there is the potential that countless inmates are wrongly imprisoned.
The chemist has previously been identified as Annie Dookhan of Franklin. State police have said that criminal charges are possible and that the Attorney General’s Office is investigating.
The Jamaica Plain lab handled 8,000 drug cases a year and was previously overseen by the Department of Public Health. It was ordered closed by Patrick. State Police took over that lab and others in July after a move by the Legislature.
Earlier this week, a top state health official resigned over the crisis.