San Francisco News

AG Jerry Brown to launch crime lab investigation

Thursday, March 11, 2010
San Francisco police car drives down the street. San Franciscos Chief of Police George Gascon holds a press conference Thursday.

California's Attorney General Jerry Brown is joining the investigation into accusations of evidence tampering at the San Francisco Police Department's drug lab.

Chief of Police George Gascon said that he is pleased the attorney general is getting involved. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, at the Hall of Justice, the chief had a lot to say about this case. He believes people who were convicted of drug crimes were "righteously convicted," that the evidence was not fabricated, and that the conduct was limited to a small number of cases.

Some of those cases, however, are being dismissed.

"It's like Christmas. They are very happy," said defense attorney Kenneth Quigley.

Three of his clients have had their cases for methamphetamine and cocaine possession thrown out because of questions about San Francisco's crime lab. Former technician Deborah Madden is accused of stealing small amounts of cocaine evidence for her own use.

"It's a bad situation and w'ere trying to do the best we can," said Gascon.

Thursday, Gascon announced four other Bay Area drug labs, including the Oakland Police Department's, will be paid to take over narcotics testing for San Francisco starting on Friday.

"I think it is important to send a very clear message to everyone, the community as well as the bad guys, they have not gotten off the hook. We're not giving up," said Gascon.

The city's drug lab is shut down and a lengthy independent audit is set to begin next week. The state attorney general is also launching an investigation.

Chief Gascon says so far the scandal has resulted in fewer than 100 cases being dismissed, but San Francisco's public defender Jeff Adachi says it could end up being thousands. Not only because of the tampering accusations, but because his office was never notified as required that lab technician Deborah Madden had a conviction for domestic violence that he says raises questions about her credibility. The mayor calls that hyperbole.

"There are some who want to create a framework where everybody and everything may be at risk and thrown out and I think that's overstating things a bit," said Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Quigley has warned his clients their cases might be re-filed.

"So now they're back on the streets," said ABC7's Carolyn Tyler.

"If they don't come back, God bless them. These are small amounts," said Quigley.

Madden, 60, no longer works at the Hall of Justice; she recently retired. She has not been charged in connection with this case -- the investigation continues.

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Tags:
SFPD, george gascon, gavin newsom, jerry brown, san francisco news, carolyn tyler
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