Three years before FBI scientist Michael Malone helped put a young man behind bars wrongfully, FBI superiors were alerted that he may have given false testimony in an earlier case that led to the rare impeachment of a federal judge, says the Associated Press. The 1989 warning was not heeded and the FBI hair and fiber expert was permitted to continue as a key prosecution witness for several more years, including in a 1992 rape case against Anthony E. Bragdon. The government concedes that Malone, now retired, gave false testimony and withheld evidence in that case.
The government recently rectified its misdeed against Bragdon, telling the District of Columbia Superior Court it did not plan to retry Bragdon after the judge threw out his conviction. It was the first overturned conviction to result from problems inside the FBI’s renowned crime lab that date to the mid-1990s. But for Bragdon, it was too late. He already had spent 10 years in prison and was on parole when he got the news.
“I did all that time. That is a major part of my life,” Bragdon said yesterday. “When I went to prison I was just 19. This was my first adult conviction. I had never been locked up. … So they never gave me a chance to establish myself in the real world as far as getting a job.”
In a 2001 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Malone was quoted as saying: “I did the best I could. Crime labs aren’t perfect. People aren’t perfect.”