SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

October 6, 2012

DA: 300-500 defendants face release in lab scandal

BOSTON — About 300 to 500 defendants, including some “pretty dangerous people,” may be released into Boston streets because of the alleged mishandling of evidence at a Massachusetts drug lab, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Chemist Annie Dookhan is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly skirting protocols and faking test results at the now-closed state drug lab. At least two dozen defendants whose cases Dookhan handled have been released, including career criminal and convicted rapist Marcus Pixley.

Pixley was released on bail earlier this month but failed to show up for court Wednesday. Quincy police arrested him yesterday; a judge doubled his bail to $2,000 and set his next court date for Oct. 15.

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said officials in Boston are “concerned that there may be violence” if other defendants and convicts are released and have discussed intervening in the lives of those who are freed in order to prevent repeat offenses.

“We may be in the position, we undoubtedly will be in the position, to assent to the release of some pretty dangerous people into Boston,” Conley said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Thomas Menino said federal officials should offer support to ensure that those released are monitored so “they’re not back out on the streets doing the same thing they did in the past.”

“Our crime rate in Boston right now is down, but if we’re going to have maybe 1,200 individuals released to the streets of our city, what will happen in the future?” Menino asked reporters during a campaign stop for U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. “It’s an emergency.”

Yesterday, Boston Municipal Court held the first special session to handle criminal cases challenged in light of the lab scandal.

Defendants Carlos Colon and Michael Wells were released because Dookhan signed off on or tested their samples.

Wells, 24, was arrested in 2009, then violated his probation with drug distribution charges in 2011. Dookhan tested the 2011 sample, and Wells has since been in jail.

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