Annie Dookhan Goes to Prison

The former state lab chemist pleaded guilty to falsifying drug tests and tampering with evidence.

Former state lab chemist Annie Dookhan is off to prison after pleading guilty to 27 charges of obstructing justice, tampering with evidence, perjury, and falsely claiming a university degree. A judge sentenced her to three to five years in state prison, plus two years probation, slightly less than the Attorney General’s office asked, and slightly more than state sentencing guidelines.

“Annie Dookhan’s egregious misconduct sent ripple effects throughout our entire criminal justice system,” AG Martha Coakley said in a statement. “Her deliberate decision to tamper with drug evidence and fabricate test results harmed the integrity of the system and put the public’s safety at risk.”

Dookhan, of course, set off a crisis in the Massachusetts justice system when investigators discovered that she had falsified test results and tampered with evidence in ways that impacted more than 40,000 criminal cases. For years, Dookhan tested thousands more samples than her colleagues, and became a go-to for some prosecutors who wanted lab results expedited. After her arrest, five of her colleagues as well as the state public health commissioner resigned. There are still a lot of questions about the Dookhan’s motivations, and with a guilty plea, Dookhan likely won’t have to clarify them for some time.