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Massive fraud leads to thousands of dismissed drug charges

A major case of fraud and corruption has led to the dismissal of over 21,000 drug convictions in Massachusetts. In 2013, a state chemist admitted that for nine years, she had returned positive results for evidence in drug cases that she never actually tested and had forged the signatures of her co-workers.

District attorneys submitted lists of 21,587 cases that they were unable or unwilling to prosecute based on the errors made by the woman, who worked at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute. During her time at the lab, she routinely produced drug test results for over 500 samples monthly, in comparison to 150 monthly results obtained by the average chemist.

However, far from demonstrating excellence and commitment to the job, her alteration and fudging of test results led to innocent people losing their jobs, their livelihoods and even their liberties. For years, she was praised for generating vast numbers of drug test results, despite the seeming inability of her colleagues to even approximate her large number of tests processed.

Hundreds of people were freed from jail sentences they received due to the fraudulent test results, while others with pending cases saw the drug charges against them dismissed. While she herself served more than two years in prison, it is unclear what kinds of systemic reforms have been put into place to protect the people whose evidence is being tested and who are threatened with fines, loss of jobs and imprisonment as a result of drug charges.

Not all faulty evidence in drug cases requires outright fraud. It is important to consult an experienced lawyer for people facing drug charges, including cases with evidence based on scientific testing. A lawyer can work to ensure that the rights of people accused of drug charges are protected in court and help to keep any kind of improper evidence from being admitted.

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