Deborah Madden, a 60-year-old San Francisco crime lab technician, is at the center of a scandal that has led to the dismissal of hundreds of criminal cases and jeopardized thousands more, reports the Associated Press. Police have accused Madden of skimming cocaine evidence from the lab, although she hasn’t been criminally charged in the case. The San Francisco lab joins those in several other cities that have suffered a loss of credibility, including Houston and Detroit.
The fallout from the San Francisco lab scandal is still unfolding and experts say it could take years to clean up, especially if authorities fail to establish which criminal cases were compromised. In a taped interview, investigators pleaded with Madden to confess to skimming significant amounts of cocaine from drugs seized during arrests. A confession, they said, would take pressure off co-workers who also were being questioned and would help begin to repair the damage. But Madden admitted only to snorting small amounts of cocaine spilled on her work station.