Annie Dookhan, The Nightmare Employee

Funny---she doesn't LOOK evil.

Funny—she doesn’t LOOK evil.

Every organization dreads the falsely competent employee who is secretly cutting corners and covering their tracks. Sometimes, they are embezzlers. Sometimes they are plagiarists, or journalists who fabricate quotes and only pretend to check sources.  Sometimes they are managers, CEOs, generals and leaders who are faking it, not providing oversight and diligently making sure that others are doing their jobs. These people are thieves, essentially: they are stealing their salaries under the false pretense that they know what they are doing and can be trusted. Often they are worse than thieves, because they sap their organizations of efficiency and momentum, secretly, stealthily. Needless to say, government bureaucracies are crawling with them, and they cost all of us money, security, hope and happiness.

Annie Doohkan is one of the worst of this breed I have ever encountered.  She was a state chemist in Massachusetts who intentionally mishandled evidence in drug cases, rushing results, falsifying them, certifying that she did tests when she really didn’t. Finally the lies became too much to hide, and she was exposed, but not before her perfidy forced the release of hundreds of convicts, raised new questions about thousands of other cases, and forced the state to spend millions of dollars. Apparently she had no greater motive for inflicting this carnage than her desire to give police and prosecutors what they wanted, and to appear to be fast, efficient and reliable.

As a consequence of her fakery, 950 people have been given a total of 2,922 special Superior Court hearings  since last fall, when the vast scale of Dookhan’s activities was discovered. The Massachusetts Department of Correction has released more than 300 people convicted in drug cases where Dookhan played a role.  More than 600 people have had their convictions erased or temporarily set aside because of  how she handled evidence, and the end is not yet in sight.

She is going to jail for three to five years, far too light a sentence. Since there is a substantial chance someone else will trust her at some point after her release, and maybe many people, she should be imprisoned for life in order to protect society. Three to five years for falsely causing the convictions hundreds of people, sending many of them to jail, just so she could look good to superiors? Throw the key away. This is a betrayal is on the same scale as treason.

Now just think about how many Annie Dookhans are out there, undetected, perhaps overseeing some aspect of your business, your welfare, your life.

Pleasant dreams…

_____________________________________

Facts: Boston.com

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

29 thoughts on “Annie Dookhan, The Nightmare Employee

  1. Popehat covered this a while ago, with the chilling parallel to that monster in Ohio…

    This woman was responsible for more false imprisonment, likely more takes, and the ruin of countless lives…

    She got less than a day per year when you compare the sentences.

    She shouldn’t be in prison, she should be burned at the stake and her body displayed for all who work on or with law enforcement to see.

  2. I am not sure jail time is an adequate punishment nor is it a deterrent for other professionals that violate their code of ethics. Liars do so believing that they will not get caught and if they do, the mere fact that they were “productive members of society” would vitiate any potential of incarceration.

    Perhaps we should view bearing false witness as a civil wrong that would expose them personally to financial liability. It stands to reason that if we permit the exonerated who had been incorrectly convicted as a result of an otherwise fair trial to receive monetary damages from the state, it would be similarly, if not more appropriate, to allow the exonerated to exact compensation from the purveyor of false testimony when it is shown that that false testimony led to the erroneous conviction. Crime victims cannot sue the state for damages when an criminal perpetrates the crime so why should the state be liable for damages to improperly convicted persons when the identity of the person responsible for that conviction is known. The State’s only moral responsibility would be to assist the wrongly convicted reenter society successfully.

    Having worked in a correctional environment I know that real perpetrators of crimes assess the expected value of committing the act prior to doing so. Most believe that the likelihood of capture is remote and if captured the punishment will be relatively light compared to the expected gain. The criminal’s failing is that he/she does not correctly assess the probability of capture. He or she only knows what the probability of being punished harshly based on his or her experience or the collective wisdom of the street.

    Even if the criminal makes a mistake in calculating the expected probability of capture, a low value for expected punishment will often reduce the overall expected cost of the crime to such a low level that the immediate gains of the act will overwhelm any reticence to perpetrate the act.

    Thus, to effectively deter such behavior the cost to commit the crime must increase. The punishment must however be something that can be understood. The chemist in this case probably had no understanding of what prison life is really like – and more than likely she denied the possibility of incarceration if she were to be caught. For if she had fully understood the real consequences, her calculus might have changed regarding her choice to falsify and fabricate data that she knew would lead to an improper conviction. On the other hand, a few significant monetary judgments for malpractice might be enough to discourage the behavior.

    With that said, the relative consequences of personal punishment should not drive the decision against fabricating data. The improper and unjust consequences that fall on others as a result of one’s own demand for immediate gratification should be the primary decision tool.

    • “Crime victims cannot sue the state for damages when an criminal perpetrates the crime so why should the state be liable for damages to improperly convicted persons when the identity of the person responsible for that conviction is known. The State’s only moral responsibility would be to assist the wrongly convicted reenter society successfully.”

      The State employed her. The State didn’t properly check her work to make sure she was doing it correctly, therefore the State is responsible. The State is therefore responsible for compensation.

  3. Unfortunately without transparency, regulation, and oversight corruption is inevitable in groups who have power over others in any setting–particularly when it comes to criminal justice. Groupthink becomes so called “noble corruption” where the usual rules, regulations, and ethics no longer apply. Transparency, oversight, regulation, and consequences are the only approach to prevent this from recurring. And it’s not just rogue lab techs–it is a systemic problem. Complaints are ignored or tabled by the apologists and the obtuse. There should be zero tolerance for lab fraud yet it continues as SOP. See links below. Nothing has changed. It’s still happening
    Unfortunately without transparency, regulation, and oversight corruption is inevitable in groups who have power over others in any setting–particularly when it comes to criminal justice. Groupthink becomes so called “noble corruption” where the usual rules, regulations, and ethics no longer apply. Transparency, oversight, regulation, and consequences are the only approach to prevent this from recurring. And it’s not just rogue lab techs–it is a systemic problem. Complaints are ignored or tabled by the apologists and the obtuse. There should be zero tolerance for lab fraud yet it continues as SOP. See links below. Nothing has changed. It’s still happening
    http://bit.ly/1dj768V

  4. 3 sentences. One is reasonable.

    A Clarksville man settled his child sex abuse case Thursday and was sentenced to a probation term.

    Jorge Soto Gonzalez was charged with two counts of rape, rape of a child, two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery.

    Gonzalez entered a best interest plea to an amended charge of aggravated assault-serious bodily injury in Judge Mike R. Jones’ court on Thursday.

    He agreed to a three-year sentence to be served on state probation.

    A Clarksville man with multiple theft convictions was sent to prison for five years for stealing lawn equipment.

    David Albritton was sentenced Thursday to five years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections for three felony theft convictions.

    In April 2012, Albritton stole a $1,700 riding mower from a Moncrest Drive home and the next day stole a push mower and two bicycles from an Ogle Drive home. He also stole a $1,000 riding mower from a third person the same month.

    Blount, now 23, was 15 at the time that he and two 18-year-olds committed armed robbery at a house party. One of the 18-year-olds struck someone with the butt of the gun, but no shots were fired, according to the ACLU Center for Justice.

    The two 18-year-olds pleaded guilty and accepted prison sentences of 10 and 13 years. Blount decided to go to trial instead, turning down the prosecution’s offer of 18 years in prison.

    At the trial, Blount was found guilty of 24 firearm counts and sentenced to 118 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2013/11/life-times-six-part-2-do-crime-do-time#interactive
    http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20131122/NEWS01/311220036/Clarksville-man-enters-best-interest-plea-child-sex-abuse-case

    • I… which of those is reasonable? I guess th emiddle one? I mean he did steal several thousand dollars worth of stuff, so I guess his is in the right ballpark, even if it does seem a bit excessive…

  5. I read more on this woman and it seems she has been lying all her adult life (the articles I read didn’t go into her childhood) and she lies about anything and everything seemingly with no trace of guilt. She lies to get what she wants whether it’s a man…although she is already married…or a reputation as a “genius”. Lying is just a symptom of a much bigger issue with this woman. She should never be trusted. She will wreak havoc wherever she goes.

  6. I may have said this before, but I really think this could be a good policy:

    If you work in law enforcement or any related field, and you deliberately give the wrong information or withhold information that leads to someone’s wrongful conviction, then your sentence (it if can be demonstrated in a court of law) shall be no less than every day someone sat in jail because of that treachery.

    I think that is fair, and I think that being on the books would make someone like her think twice before lying about stuff like this.

        • Because law and order rhetoric have convinced the populace as a whole that the state and the police (and, by extension, those who work with them) are the “good guys-” Hell, I even fell victim to it there. The crime lab isn’t SUPPOSED to be working with the police, they’re supposed to be independent data generation, but we see them as on the side of the cops and, therefore, the good guys. We don’t care when good guys railroad bad guys, since bad guys deserve punishment.

      • Wait — what? This is not a political issue. I don’t know anybody defending this monster. And tweeting addresses always is wrong — it only leads to mob justice. The real crime here is that the justice system was so lenient. I would have argued for life in prison PLUS all of her assets being seized to assist in paying for the countless retrials of her poor victims. Not only did she rob innocents of their lives, she cost the State countless millions I bet.

        • I’m not saying anyone is specifically defending HER, and I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for Michael and say I don’t think he is saying so either. The point we are both making is that the outrage simply isn’t there, because she is perceived as one of the good guys. Nobody is saying she’s innocent, but it’s not hard to find the excuses- her heart was in the right place, she made mistakes, upstanding citizen, a lapse in judgement.

  7. Pingback: Hellbeast Annie Dookhan | Hellbeasts: Canadian Crime Blog

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