Annie Dookhan is a liar and a fraud. She sacrificed thousands of drug defendants on the alter of her ambition, and now, she is headed to the same place she sent them: To jail.
We’ve all, at some point in our lives, met one of those people. Someone whose desire to succeed is so great they start cutting corners in the workplace and shredding any semblance of a moral code that they might once have had. They cheat. They snitch. They throw others on the bonfire that fuels their aspirations. But once in a while, they get what they deserve, and when that happens, it is a beautiful thing to behold.
Such is the story of Annie Dookhan, an upwardly-mobile government chemist whose job it was to test evidence from drug busts and testify in court regarding her findings. For most of her nine-year tenure at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, she must have seemed like a perfect model of efficiency to her superiors, clearing cases at three times the rate of her co-workers. But it was a lack of conscience, rather than exceptional ability, that was the secret of her success. She submitted positive results for drug samples she neglected to test, forged co-workers’ signatures on her work, lied at trial under oath and even falsely claimed to have a master’s degree in chemistry.
On Friday November 22, 2013, Annie Dookhan’s meticulously fabricated façade of professional excellence came to a brutal and crushing end when, after pleading guilty to tampering of evidence, obstruction of justice, perjury and other charges, she was sentenced to three to five years in prison.
The ramifications of her deceit are likely to play out for years as prisoners demand dismissals or new trials based on her tainted work. It is said that over 40,000 drug samples have been called into question, calling into question 40,000 verdicts. Over 300 convicted inmates have already been released, and hundreds, if not thousands more are expected. Many of these convicts are career criminals. Once such man, Donta Hood, who had been doing time on a cocaine charge, killed a man after he was released and is now back in prison. Another man, Jamell Spurill, who had also been sentenced on drug charges, was released only to be rearrested shortly after when he was caught with a gun. At the time of his arrest, he informed police that, “I just got out thanks to Annie Dookhan. I love that lady.”