Drug Cases Tossed After Concerns Found At Braintree Police Evidence Room

Hundreds of drug convictions could be in jeopardy after an internal audit by the Braintree Police Department found drugs, guns and money missing from the evidence room.

Prosecutors have already dropped six cases due to accusations of mishandled evidence.

And the Norfolk County district attorney's office says hundreds of other drug convictions could be tossed out if investigators find evidence was tainted or lost.

"We cannot and we will not use tampered evidence," Norfolk DA Michael Morrissey said.

The audit began in June, at the request of Braintree Police Chief Russell Jenkins, and so far has found that evidence went missing or was mishandled between June 2013 and May 2016. The results of the audit are expected to be released within the next few days.

Morrissey said he was briefed on the audit by Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan.

"Basically, we learned that there is an issue of locating drugs -- there are drug cases where evidence was tampered with or missing -- and there is money that is either unaccounted for or missing," Morrissey said Wednesday. He said the audit also determined "a number of guns were unaccounted for."

WCVB-TV first reported on the audit. The station also reported that the officer in charge of the evidence room committed suicide the month before the audit began.

The Norfolk DA has also asked the state attorney general to conduct her own investigation.

The news out of Braintree echoes recent scandals at Massachusetts drug evidence labs.

In May, investigators said that former Amherst chemist Sonja Farak was high almost every day she went to work for eight years, potentially putting thousands of convictions in jeopardy.

Annie Dookhan, another former state drug chemist, was sentenced in 2013 to at least three years in prison after she admitted to faking test results, also jeopardizing thousands of convictions.

With reporting by The Associated Press

This article was originally published on September 14, 2016.



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