Drug-Skimming Crime Lab Tech Deborah Madden Now Attorney General's Problem

The party at the SFPD drug lab may soon be over
The California Attorney General's office will handle any criminal charges filed against former San Francisco crime-lab technician Deborah Madden for her alleged role in tampering with narcotics evidence, District Attorney Kamala Harris announced today.

No charges related to the alleged theft of drug samples have been filed against Madden, as the attorney general continues to investigate problems at the lab. However, Harris said at a press conference that the A.G.'s office will be responsible for deciding whether and how to prosecute Madden, because of potential conflicts of interest in the D.A.'s office -- including testimony from local prosecutors against the technician. "It looks like some of our (assistant) D.A.'s may be witnesses against Madden in the criminal case," said Harris spokesman Brian Buckelew.

Harris also said she supports the idea of an independent lab -- that is, one not run by the San Francisco Police Department -- for testing drugs in narcotics cases, a suggestion that has been floated by other city officials, including Public Defender Jeff Adachi. "That seems right, but the detail is being worked out," Harris said. She added, "We need to have closure on this issue, so we can move forward."

Revelations that Madden -- and possibly others -- were mishandling drug evidence at the lab have created a mounting scandal for both the district attorney's office and police department. Madden, who went on leave from the lab in December and retired in March, is suspected of stealing drugs from the facility and told police inspectors in an interview that evidence samples were routinely treated with carelessness in the lab's narcotics unit.

Photo   |   Foxtongue

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