Apparently a drug analyst in San Francisco was skimming some drugs off the top of her cases…
…25 drug cases dismissed at the Hall of Justice because of questions surrounding the police crime lab and a former technician there who is suspected of stealing and using drug evidence.
On Tuesday, police said they were shutting down the lab immediately and had ordered an audit of the operation.
…deputy public defender Peter Fitzpatrick, said the drug evidence … had been tested by former criminalist Deborah Madden, 60, who authorities say stole and used powdered cocaine she was supposed to be testing.
Madden abruptly retired Dec. 8 after 29 years on the job and has been in treatment recently for drug and alcohol use, officials said. She left the crime lab shortly after an audit discovered that drug evidence was missing, officials said.
As if the purported stealing and consumption of drug evidence wasn’t bad enough…
She has not been charged in San Francisco, but she does face weapons counts in San Mateo County as a result of a police search of her San Mateo home earlier this month that allegedly turned up a gun.
Madden was not supposed to possess a weapon because of a 2008 misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, authorities said.
Defense lawyers pointed out that San Francisco prosecutors didn’t reveal Madden’s domestic violence conviction to them as they prepared their cases, an apparent violation of rules governing what should be disclosed to defendants’ attorneys.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said his office specifically asked in July whether Madden had any relevant convictions and that there had been “no evidence forthcoming.”
Adachi demanded that an outside investigation of the crime lab be launched. The police-requested audit isn’t good enough, he said, because the Police Department is picking the auditor.
“We were completely blindsided by this,” Adachi said. “Obviously, it’s very sad that this happened. But what’s even sadder is that hundreds, if not thousands, of people might have been convicted based on evidence that was tampered with.”
Defendants found guilty more than a couple of years ago cannot challenge their convictions, Adachi said, because drug evidence used in cases before 2008 has been destroyed.
One of Adachi’s deputy public defenders, Elizabeth Hilton, was in court Wednesday when four defendants’ cases were dropped, including Christian Borda, a client of hers, and Moises Tejeda, accused of possessing marijuana for sale. The prosecutor, Seth Steward, told the judge the charges were dropped in the “interest of justice … given the events that occurred yesterday regarding the crime lab.”
Hilton said prosecutors should have disclosed what they knew about Madden as soon as they knew it.
“The whole holding-back thing is ridiculous — this is about justice,” she said. “You can’t tell me nobody in the D.A.‘s office knew about this before today.”
Whether or not the prosecutor’s knew about the criminal conviction, someone in the police department should have known.
How can an agency have a convicted criminal work in the crime lab?
Read the rest of the article at SFGate.
- Judge Orders Discovery of Documents Realted to San Francisco Crime Lab Controversy
- SF Police Chief Gascon Vows “Negligent” Police Officials Will Be Held Accountable
- San Francisco Backs Off on Moving Crime Lab out of the PD
- More Than One SFPD Drug Chemist Skimming?
- SF Prosecutor Accuses Judge of Bias
- Crime Lab Staff to Take the 5th