SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

September 29, 2012

Mass. chemist in drug test flap is arrested

(Continued)

Verner said Dookhan later acknowledged to state police that she sometimes would take 15 to 25 samples and instead of testing them all, she would test only five of them, then list them all as positive. She said that sometimes, if a sample tested negative, she would take known cocaine from another sample and add it to the negative sample to make it test positive for cocaine, Verner said.

Dookhan was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, a felony count that carries up to 10 years in prison, and pretending to hold a degree, a misdemeanor punishable by as much as a year in jail.

She pleaded not guilty and was later released on $10,000 bail. She was ordered to turn over her passport, submit to GPS monitoring, and not have contact with any former or current employees of the lab. Family members and Dookhan’s attorney declined to comment after the brief hearing. Her next court date is Dec. 3.

The obstruction charges accuse Dookhan of lying about drug samples she analyzed at the lab in March 2011 for a Suffolk County case, and for testifying under oath in August 2010 that she had a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Coakley said.

In one of the cases, Boston police had tested a substance as negative for cocaine, but when Dookhan tested it, she reported it as positive. Investigators later re-tested the sample and it came back negative, Verner said.

The only motive authorities have found so far is that Dookhan wanted to be seen as a good worker, Coakley said.

“Her actions totally turned the system on its head,” Coakley said.

According to a state police report in August, Dookhan said she just wanted to get the work done and never meant to hurt anyone.

“I screwed up big-time,” she is quoted as saying. “I messed up bad; it’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”

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