What has been called the largest crime lab scandal in U.S. history received another jolt this week with a Boston Globe report that the office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins in Massachusetts is examining the work of another chemist. A filing submitted earlier this week by Rollins’ office raised questions about the work of Della Saunders, who analyzed tens of thousands of drug samples while working alongside disgraced chemist Annie Dookhan for about a decade.
Reverberations of the decades-long drug lab scandal, which has resulted in the dismissal of more than 35,000 drug convictions, as well as the prosecution of Dookhan and another former state chemist, Sonja Farak, brought national embarrassment to the state, and are still being felt today. Their misconduct has cost the state more than $30 million, Rollins’s office noted in the filing, with state payouts to those wrongfully convicted expected to reach $10 million. Prosecutors will now seek to determine “whether agencies of the Commonwealth met their duty to investigate certain lab chemists, specifically Della Saunders.” Matthew Segal, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said “The question is whether they have gotten to the bottom of everything; it sure looks like they haven’t.” Additional Reading: Anatomy of a Crime Lab: Winning ‘On the Cheap’