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Thousands of cases to be dropped in disgraced lab chemist Anna Dookhan scandal

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Annie Dookhan
Annie Dookhan

Anna Dookhan served three years in prison and was paroled in April 2016.

BOSTON (Diya TV) – Prosecutors from across Massachusetts on Tuesday said they would collectively throw out more than 20,000 cases that relied on evidence handled by a disgraced drug lab chemist, Anna Dookhan.

The dramatic announcement, which legal analysts have hailed as an unprecedented move in scope, follows years of litigation by defendants whose cases involved evidence that was analyzed by Dookhan, who pleaded guilty to tampering with drug samples and fabricating results.

Prosecutor’s final list of dismissed cases offers the fullest accounting to date of the disruption caused by a scandal that came to light in 2012. “The dismissal of thousands of tainted drug lab cases rightly puts justice over results,” Massachusetts Bar Association’s chief legal counsel, Martin W. Healy, told The Boston Globe. “It is a necessary and long-overdue outcome, given our criminal justice system’s responsibility to ensure a level playing field for all, regardless of the offense.”

Michael O’Keefe, district attorney for Cape Cod and the surrounding islands, said that while his office are dismissing cases “because we believe that the integrity of our system of justice is more important than their conviction,” no conclusions about guilt or innocence should be drawn.

“We are dealing with drug defendants, the overwhelming majority of whom plead guilty, went through an exhaustive plea colloquy with a judge and testified under oath that they were ‘pleading guilty because they were guilty and for no other reason,’ ” O’Keefe said in a statement.

Lawyers representing countless defendants said Tuesday that they did not believe anyone is still incarcerated in a Dookhan-related case. The state and defense attorneys will now work to ensure that all of the affected defendants will be notified.

Last January, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court gave district attorneys 90 days to come up with a list of cases that should be dismissed because they could not hold up without the potentially tainted evidence.

The seven district attorney offices with cases affected by Dookhan – Bristol, Essex, Cape & Islands, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk – submitted their lists to the clerk’s office in Boston on Tuesday.

The Boston Supreme Judicial Court clerk’s office is expected to issue an order of dismissal this week.

Dookhan was responsible for testing drugs in about 40,000 cases from 2003 to 2012 at the former Hinton laboratory in Jamaica Plain. She served three years in prison for evidence tampering and was released on parole in April 2016.

Prosecutors from each office also submitted lists of 320 cases that will not be dropped.

Legal experts believe this many dismissals are unmatched by any such similar event in the nation’s history. “I am not aware of anything remotely close to it,” Sandra Guerra Thompson, a law professor at the University of Houston who wrote a book on scandals at forensic labs across the country, told the Globe. “There have been large-scale reviews of cases, but not reviews that have resulted in that many dismissals.”

Betty Layne DesPortes, president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, said the scandal sent “a very loud message to the forensic science community.”

“An employee as disloyal as Dookhan to scientific integrity never should have been allowed to work in a laboratory, and the laboratory should have had the oversight and protocols in place to prevent her fraud – or at least caught it in a timely manner,” she said.

It is not just on a professional basis where drug tampering can occur, but it is also done by individuals who are undergoing a drug test. A variety of drugs called benzodiazepines are a very serious problem because they affect the central nervous system of the human body with many people not knowing how long it can stay in your body. So, how long are benzos in your system? Well, it can vary from person to person depending on weight, height, metabolism, etc. and therefore, it can be detectable for up to several months. If a person is tampering with their drug results, it may be clear that they have a drug addiction and need to seek help for this. Tampering drug results is a serious offence and will not be taken lightly in a courtroom.

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Missing Hindu woman found mutilated in Pakistan

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The mutilated body of a Hindu woman was found in a field in southeastern Pakistan. Police say 40 year old Daya Bheel was murdered in the latest suspected attack against minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Authorities say they have arrested some suspects but have not determined a motive.

The Khosla family has donated nearly 2 million dollars to the Nudge Institute to help fight poverty. The philanthropists have donated millions of dollars for many other causes.

And disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research. If convicted of these charges, Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Christmas crash kills Indian American toddler

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Tragic news out of Nevada. Authorities say an Indian American toddler has died in a devastating Christmas day car crash and his mother is in critical condition fighting for her life. Authorities say the accident happened on a busy Las Vegas boulevard and they were returning home from a trip in California.

Anil Beephan is now the first Indian American Republican ever to be elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany. So far only Indian American Democrats have been elected to the state legislature. Beephan will also become the first minority to represent Dutchess County and at 29 years old, he’s the youngest GOP rep in the state legislature. He’s currently in the tech industry and has also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Vice President Kamala Harris has named Indian American Rajeev Badyal to a key national advisory group, responsible for strategy and recommendations to improve and maintain space policy. Badyal already works for Amazon, helping launch satellites into orbit. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Warriors host first-ever Bhangra Night

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The Golden State Warriors first-ever Bhangra Night made its debut during the Warriors-Jazz game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors say it’s a chance for the team to connect with the Bay Area’s rapidly growing South Asian community and fan base. Only Diya TV was on hand to capture the festivities. This change from the annual Bollywood night was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted Sivannarayana Barama of insider trading. Authorities say he used the quarterly financial performance of Palo Alto Networks before that information was released to the public and then traded in that company’s stock while that information was still confidential. Barama worked in IT for several Silicon Valley companies.

U.S. Border Patrol caught more than 4000 Indians illegally crossing the Mexico border in October and November. That’s more than double compared to the same time frame last year. An Indian man recently died climbing a border wall in Texas. The Biden administration is struggling to contain a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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