Boston chemist Annie Dookhan gave positive results on drugs she never tested, convicting thousands of innocents
2012 and 2013 saw the biggest drug lab-testing scandals with the cases of Annie Dookhan and Sonja Farak coming to light.
Lab chemist at the Hinton lab in Massachusetts, Annie Dookhan had admitted to falsifying data and faking many of the test results on the drug samples she was analyzing. Netflix's new documentary 'How to Fix a Drug Scandal' looks into the case of Annie Dookhan and how literally thousands of cases had to be tossed out because of her negligence.
Dookhan was known as a very ambitious woman who strived for professional excellence. She was incredibly hard working and was a model employee, churning out test results much faster than the average employee over the nine years she worked at the Hinton lab.
Dookhan had confessed to faking analyses and also altering drug samples at the Boston testing facility where she had worked. The case of Annie Dookhan's tampering made headlines given it had occurred in a big city like Boston.
She had worked for around nine years in the lab and had admitted to falsifying data in 2012.
How she got caught
Her crimes went undetected for a very long time with her supervisors noticing nothing out of the ordinary. She also had a great relationship with her supervisors given her work output and efficiency. Her co-workers, however, were very suspicious of the 'superwoman of the lab' as they called her as she was never seen following the regular and standard testing procedures.
On paper, Dookhan was the most productive chemist. "One of the evidence techs discovered that there was a discrepancy and were concerned about the volume of cases Annie Dookhan was producing, " James Connolly, a former Massachusetts State Police personnel said.
The supervisors assured the police that the matter had been looked into already internally but no one looked further. Then it came to the authorities' notice that the other chemists had been complaining about Dookhan for years accusing her of not balancing her scales, not performing quality checks.
Only then were the supervisors told that there was something wrong going on. When they failed to act, the police stepped in and decided to speak to Dookhan.
Some officers met with her at her house and she agreed to speak with them. They asked her about the complaints and how she managed to complete so many files when she broke down and confessed to everything that she had done. She then admitted to a process called dry-labbing where she did not test the sample at all and would just look at something and say that it was the drug.
As a result of Annie Dookhan's tampering with evidence jeopardizing thousands of cases as a result. The head of the Department of Public Health at the time resigned in the lab scandal. Dookhan was arrested post her confession. A lot of defendants were very concerned about the fact that she had tested the drugs that led to their convictions.
Dookhan was sentenced to prison for three years and then granted parole in April 2016. Her crimes also saw the dismissal of around 20,000 cases that she had worked on.