Report: Management failures contributed to drug lab scandal


BOSTON ( -- A report by the state's inspector general has concluded that disgraced chemist Annie Dookhan was the "sole bad actor" at the Hinton Drug Lab.

The report notes, however, that management failures contributed to Dookhan's ability to commit her "acts of malfeasance."

Governor Deval Patrick told FOX 25 that he takes responsibility for the scandal at the now closed drug lab.

"Well you know look, I'm responsible, I'm the governor," he said.


It's a mess that led to the conviction of Dookhan, the release of hundreds from jail, and the state spending millions to investigate it all.

"We got an allowance if you will from the legislature, I think it was $30 million and we've spent 18 of the 30 dealing with this," Patrick said.

The inspector general's scathing report was released after a 15-month investigation and found management failures from the top down.

His report detailed "chronic managerial negligence, inadequate training, and a lack of professional standards."

"The lack of effective management and oversight provided the atmosphere for someone like Annie Dookhan to commit her crimes," Mass. Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha said.

According to the inspector general's office, "The directors were ill-suited to oversee a forensic drug lab, provided almost no supervision, were habitually unresponsive to chemists' complaints and suspicions, and severely downplayed Dookhan's major breach in chain-of-custody protocol upon discovering it."

The report goes on to say former DPH Commissioner John Auerbach and his staff did not respond appropriately to reports of Dookhan's breach of protocol. They also claim DPH staff failed to disclose "another known act of malfeasance" to investigators and other interested parties.

Cunha's findings were released Tuesday. The investigation into the lab was ordered after it was shut down by Mass. State Police in 2012 following allegations of misconduct against Dookhan.

Prosecutors said the former chemist admitted "dry labbing," or testing only a fraction of a batch of samples, then listing them all as positive for illegal drugs, to "improve her productivity and burnish her reputation."

"Though many of the chemists worked alongside Dookhan for years, the OIG found no evidence that any other chemist at the Drug Lab committed any malfeasance with respect to testing evidence or knowingly aided Dookhan in committing her malfeasance," read the inspector general's report. "The OIG found no evidence that Dookhan tampered with any drug samples assigned to another chemist even when she played a role in confirming another chemist's test results."

Dookhan was sentenced to three to five years in prison in November after pleading guilty to charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and tampering with evidence.

Cunha's office also put forth recommendations in the wake of the scandal. They say all state agencies must employ practices that hold supervisors accountable for their employees. The inspector general adds that Mass. State Police is the appropriate agency to handle the forensic testing formerly conducted at the lab prior to its closure.

Since the lab closed in August 2012, more than 1,000 criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the lab's shutdown.

To read the full report, click here.

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