BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — A top Patrick administration official has resigned, admitting to a lack of oversight at a state crime lab where tens of thousands of criminal cases have been potentially compromised.
At a State House event celebrating National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach avoided questions on his decision to leave the administration.
“My job today is to support the work on Recovery Day,” said Auerbach. “On other issues I’m not thinking about them today, I’m thinking about the importance of this one.”
A chemist at the now closed-down state lab is accused of mishandling drug samples, potentially compromising thousands of criminal cases.
In a statement, Auerbach said, “It is clear that there was insufficient quality monitoring, reporting and investigating on the part of supervisors and managers surrounding the former Department of Public Health drug lab …as Commissioner, the buck stops with me.”
“[Auerbach] has taken responsibility,” Lt. Gov. Tim Murray told 22 News. “He’s going to work in the transition to make sure things improve and that’s what we need to focus on.”
Investigators are sifting through more than 60,000 drug samples handled by the chemist, Annie Dookhan,and matching them with defendants, some of whom may have been inappropriately sent to jail. House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he anticipates a request for state budget money to handle the task.
“I wouldn’t even have an idea in terms of what would be you know requested, but again, I think we as a House have to stand ready to be, to get some answers here,” said DeLeo
The House Post Audit and Oversight Committee has begun its own investigation into the state crime lab and plans to conduct a hearing on the matter in the coming weeks.
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