Lawyers in Mass. lab scandal to argue sentencing

BOSTON  -- Lawyers on both sides of the case of a chemist accused of putting thousands of criminal prosecutions in jeopardy by faking test results at a state drug lab will argue Friday to sentence her to years in prison or months in jail.Annie Dookhan is charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and perjury for alleging faking test results at a now-closed state lab.A judge is scheduled to meet with prosecutors and Dookhan's lawyer Friday to discuss their sentencing recommendations if Dookhan decides to plead guilty.In a sentencing memo filed Thursday, prosecutors say they will recommend five to seven years in state prison. Dookhan's lawyer says he will recommend a year in jail.
At least 1,100 criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the shutdown of the lab where Dookhan worked.Prosecutors from state Attorney General Martha Coakley's office say Dookhan caused "egregious damage'' to the state's criminal justice system. State officials have estimated Dookhan tested samples involving more than 40,000 suspects during her nine years at the lab.Dookhan, of Franklin, signed a statement to state police in which she admitted making some negative samples positive for narcotics and "dry labbing,'' or testing some samples for drugs and assuming others were positive.She has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges.The lobby conference scheduled with the judge Friday does not mean Dookhan will definitely change her plea. Both sides are expected to make their sentencing recommendations, hear from the judge, and then await a decision from Dookhan on whether she will plead guilty.
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