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New SFPD drug lab documents released

April 15, 2010 6:49:41 PM PDT
A San Francisco judge has ordered that more documents related to the police crime lab investigation be released to the public defender's office. The documents ordered released are expected to shed more light on what was going on in the police crime lab.

Deputy public defender Chris Gauger says the credibility of the lab has been tarnished.

"The magistrate always says, 'Well it's the lab, it's reliable,' and we would like to argue based on these documents it wasn't reliable and these cases should be dismissed," Gauger said.

In one of the documents already released, another lab technician, Tasha Smith, told police she suspected lab technician Deborah Madden was stealing drug evidence from her station.

"There was a time when, like, a whole envelope would go missing and I'd find it over at her (Madden's) station, but she'd do it without saying anything," Smith said.

Before that, assistant district attorney Sharon Woo e-mailed her supervisor with concerns about Madden and the lab.

"The situation at the crime lab is becoming ridiculous," one e-mail read. "Debbie Madden has become increasingly undependable for testimony."

Woo's supervisor in turn e-mailed Assistant Police Chief Kevin Cashman, who e-mailed him back saying, "Thanks for the update. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Will see you next week."

It is not clear if Cashman told his new boss George Gascon, who had recently taken on the job as San Francisco police chief.

Once again it is an active and open investigation, not at liberty to discuss it," Cashman said.

Public defender Jeff Adachi says the e-mail shows police and the DA knew several month ago about the problems in the lab.

"The reason this is significant is because, in March when this investigation was announced, they said they found about things in February, so there are some contradictions here," Adachi said.

DA spokesperson Brian Buckelew disputes that.

"It shows that our office was trying to find out what was going on, but in fact had no idea," he said.

Thousands of drug cases are in jeopardy and by Thursday afternoon, no one from the DA's office was talking.

Not all of the documents were released Thursday, there are a few the judge thought should remain sealed and others that should be released later if they are relevant to any specific drug cases.


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