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November 23, 2013

Mass. chemist pleads guilty in drug lab scandal

(Continued)

Prosecutors said Dookhan’s actions had caused serious damage to the criminal justice system and cost the state millions of dollars to assess the damage and mitigate the effect on thousands of people charged with drug offenses during the nine years Dookhan worked at the lab. The court system has been flooded with motions for new trials filed by defendants in drug cases.

As of yesterday, the state had spent a total of $8.5 million responding to the drug lab crisis, and another $8.6 million was authorized to be spent in the current fiscal year, according to Alex Zaroulis, spokeswoman for the state office of Administration and Finance.

The Legislature has authorized as much as $30 million to cover costs incurred by the court system, prosecutors, public defenders and other state agencies.

“This ends one chapter in this situation, but the story goes on for the thousands of individuals whose lives have been affected by the conduct of Annie Dookhan,” said Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency. “There are millions of dollars more that will be spent and a lot of time spent by a number of people in the criminal justice system trying to deal with the fallout of what happened in that lab.”

Dookhan also pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that she held a master’s degree in chemistry. One of the conditions set for her probation was that she not use the false credentials when seeking employment after serving her sentence. She was also ordered to have mental health evaluations after leaving prison.

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