The whole Dookhan case began with her illegally taking samples from the lab’s evidence safe without notifying the lab’s evidence officer. Dookhan took 90 samples from Norfolk county and was testing them without authorization. Chemists were not even allowed to be inside the evidence room without an evidence officer present let alone take samples.
Once this was discovered Dookhan was confronted and she denied that she did anything wrong. Mysteriously the next day there was an entry in the evidence log book for the 90 samples with Dookhan’s initials and the initials of evidence officer Elizabeth O’Brien. Dookhan went back and forged O’Brien’s initials in the book and thought no one would know. Yet she was allowed to continue to work at the lab for another 9 months!
I’ve attached the 101 page police investigation into the Dookhan case. I have read the entire thing. That’s how sad my life is. However reading this was not a complete waste of time.
The three most important pieces of information in the police report were:
- Dookhan admitted to police that she intentionally turned negative drug test results to positive (I.E. A substance that was tested and came back as no drugs present was switched to having cocaine or heroin present by Dookhan)
- Dookhan had a key to the evidence safe and full access to the labs computer database. Enabling her to rig results in any case being tested in the lab.
- Dookhan was reported to lab supervisors for forging other chemists initials on her testing forms.
The last one doesn’t seem like a major deal but forging someone’s initials on paperwork in the science world is a major issue. It compromises all the data that you are testing and completely undermines your credibility. I work in the Biotech field and have seen several people fired for doing that just once. Dookhan did it several times and every incident was swept under the rug.
The facts brought up in the police report bring into question not only everything Dookhan did but also everything that came out of the Hinton lab as well. The lab itself was unaccredited. Meaning they had no standards for testing and their procedures on how to test drug evidence were not followed by lab staff. How can anything that came out of that lab be trusted?
Even more distrubing than what was uncovered in the Hinton Lab is what wasn’t asked. The police asked very few, if any, questions about Dookhan’s relationship with members of the District Attorney’s office in Norfolk County. After all Norfolk county is where every sample from the June 2011 sample breech came from. Shouldn’t the police have been interested in why she was testing samples from Norfolk county and ONLY Norfolk county?
Apparently not. However what they did look into was Dookhan’s productivity compared to other chemists. A top performing chemist in the lab would do 125 samples per month. Dookhan did over 500 every month. According to several chemists those numbers were utterly impossible to achieve if she was properly performing those tests.
So the question remains, why would Dookhan do all this? Why would she test so many samples and change negative results to positive? Why would she be so interested in the samples for Norfolk County? I will get to that in my next blog post but here is an email, obtained through a public records request, that sheds some light into why she did what she did…
This emails was sent as part of the DPH’s internal investigation into Dookhan after she was fired. They talk about possible motive and include a number of emails she wrote to Norfolk County ADA George Papachristos. They also say he had “A bunch of pictures of ADA Papachristos on her computer”.