GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 24, 2012

City's PD awaiting drug lab fallout

Gloucester Police are expected to soon be dealing with the fallout of some of the 64,000 tainted drug samples from the state’s drug lab in Jamaica Plain, but officials on all sides of the issue are still uncertain how local drug cases and arrests are involved.

Former chemist Annie Dookhan’s allegedly mishandled those drug samples during her time at the state’s now closed Hinton State Laboratory in Boston. Her handling of them has thrown thousands of criminal cases across the state in jeopardy, according to state officials.

A total of 8,451 of those samples came from Essex County, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, speaking for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. Yet, zeroing in on how many of those samples may have come from charges and suspects out of Gloucester, where police have stepped up the drug fight in recent months, has been difficult to pin down.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said Tuesday he hasn’t yet been told how many of Gloucester’s cases may be tied to the drug samples that Dookhan allegedly processed. He declined further comment, and said the District Attorney’s office was handling all comment on the incident.

“I’m aware of it,” Campanello said, “but I haven’t personally researched to see if any of my cases are effected by it yet.”

While Blodgett’s office doesn’t know how many cases from Gloucester had tainted evidence; however, Monahan said she’s sure there will be some.

Monahan said that Massachusetts State Police provided Blodgett’s office with a list offenders whose samples Dookhan had either tested or signed off on. Matching those samples to cases, she said, is what the Essex DA’s office is working on now.

The cases stem from the period, 2003 to 2011, the time in which Dookhan worked at the lab and the time frame for when it was under the oversight of the state’s Department of Public Health. She resigned in 2011 during an investigation by the department.

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