Mass. drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan pleads guilty

annie dookhan state chemist boston
Alleged rogue state chemist Annie Dookhan during an earlier court hearing.
Credit: Pool photo

A former Massachusetts crime lab chemist was sentenced to between three and five years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to tampering with evidence and other charges in a case that shook the foundations of the state’s criminal justice system.

Annie Dookhan, 35, agreed to plead guilty during a hearing at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, just weeks after her attorney sought leniency and Judge Carol Ball ruled that her sentence would not exceed five years.

“I don’t see any reason to depart from what I said that I would do,” the judge said on Friday.

Dookhan’s mishandling of evidence at the now-closed Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston, where she worked from 2002 to 2011, may have tainted cases involving as many as 40,000 people, investigators have said.

So far, hundreds of prisoners have been released pending new trials as a result of the investigation, according to state officials.

Prosecutors contended that Dookhan, apparently motivated by ambition, handled an unusually high volume of evidence by confirming — without doing proper chemical tests — that substances seized by police as evidence were illegal drugs.

They also accused her of lying while testifying as an expert witness in more than a dozen criminal trials and of falsely claiming to have a master’s degree in chemistry.

On Friday, the chief counsel of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, Anthony Benedetti, said Dookhan’s sentencing was not the end of the drug lab story.

“Sadly, the saga continues for the thousands of individuals who have borne the impact of Dookhan’s misdeeds and the lab’s scandalous mismanagement,” he said in a statement.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of five to seven years, higher than the state sentencing guidelines, because of what they said was the egregious nature of the offense.

Dookhan’s attorney, Nicolas Gordon, declined to comment after the hearing.

During the sentencing, Gordon stood near Dookhan as she sat in the witness box wearing a black leather jacket. She spoke little, except to respond to the judge’s questions. Her parents sat in the gallery.

She pleaded guilty to charges including eight counts of tampering with evidence, 17 counts of obstruction of justice, one count of perjury and one count of falsely claiming to hold a degree.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.