State Drug Lab in Jamaica Plain Shut Down Amid Evidence Tampering Probe
A chemist at the South Street lab is suspected of mishandling evidence in drug cases. Law officials worry convictions could be overturned.
You've driven past the State Labs on South Street many times, and perhaps not known they were even there.
But the gray concrete building is the epicenter of a scandal that has caused the labs to be shut down. Officials say a chemist in the lab mishandled evidence in drug cases. Her name hasn't been released and no criminal charges have been filed, according to multiple news reports. But officials worry that convictions could be overturned because of her actions.
"I think we’re all furious about this," said Colonel Timothy Alben, head of the State Police, according to the Globe. "Our concern is about any miscarriage of justice that’s out there."
For now, samples in drug cases will be processed at the State Police facility in Sudbury, State Police say.
Governor Deval Patrick gave the order to shutter the 305 South St. lab "until [State Police] can ensure me, the judicial system and the public of the integrity of its work."
The State Police are taking control of the labs from the Department of Public Health as part of the fiscal 2013 state budget. The chemist had been the target of an internal investigation by Public Health. State Police recently learned the problems were "more widespread than originally thought" and launched an investigation with the Attorney General's office.
"Based on evidence that came to light this week, the governor directed us to close the lab this morning and complete our joint criminal investigation with the Attorney General’s Office into what happened, how it happened, and how many drug samples and cases may be impacted as a result of alleged protocol breaches," State Police said in a statement.
At the South Street labs Thursday afternoon, all was quiet. News trucks, however, were conspicuously parked in front of the building.