Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Says State Police Lab Tech Mishandled At Least 11 Other Cases
According to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, a New Jersey state police lab technician mishandled at least 11 other cases. Defense attorneys are being notified about the situation.
The lab technician, Kamal Shah, was recently removed from work after it was found that he was faking a drug test result and mishandled at least 11 other cases.
This notice was the clearest indication alleging Shah’s misconduct relating to several cases, apart from the case which led to his suspension in December.
A letter issued by the state Attorney General’s Office last month stated that Shah was removed from duty after he was observed spending “insufficient time” on a drug test. The incident resulted in his removal from work immediately.
County prosecutors in the state were instructed by the Attorney General’s office to notify defense attorneys about drug cases in which Shah was the technician who conducted the drug test.
On 10 March, a letter was sent by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to defense attorneys stating that a review of Shah’s work was carried the next day which reportedly revealed errors in reports or incomplete case notes. Mr. Shah, who was a technician at the Little Falls lab for 10 years, had prepared 11 other cases. His responsibilities included conducting drug tests and preparing lab reports which were later used as evidence in court against narcotics defendants. According to the authorities, Shah had been involved in more than 7,800 drug cases statewide, and prepared at least 11 of those cases.
The spokeswoman for the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Cinda Adams, declined to comment on the situation Wednesday. Questions were referred to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Shah was identified to be involved in 1,660 cases in Passaic County, according to Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the office.
A spokeswoman for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Maureen Parenta, said Wednesday that Bergen County has 2,300 drug cases in which Shah prepared lab reports.
It is not yet clear how the courts and prosecutors will handle those cases in which Shah’s reports were used. A letter issued by the Passaic prosecutors stated that drug evidence will be resubmitted to the State Police laboratory for re-testing for cases that are currently pending in Superior Court. However, defense attorneys said that re-testing will not be sufficient. According to these attorneys, once a drug sample is handled by a technician accused of fraud, it can no longer be trusted and used again as it may have been mishandled. Shah’s removal not only casts doubt on the thousands of cases that he has handled, but it also brings the quality-control procedure at the lab under suspicion.
All lab reports which Shah made were reviewed and signed by his colleagues and supervisors. If he was acting fraudulently in all of those cases, then the supervisors and colleagues who reviewed his work may also be held accountable for either negligence, or being complicit. According to defense attorneys, this raises questions as to the credibility of the entire lab. Therefore, they have either already filed motions seeking to have indictments and convictions thrown out, or have guilty pleas withdrawn.
One such motion was filed by Hackensack attorney Emile Lisboa on Monday. The motion sought the dismissal of charges against one of his clients in Bergen County. He argued in the motion that resubmitting the drug samples to the same lab will further compromise evidence. It will also give the State Police lab the opportunity to tamper the evidence which they cannot be trusted to examine.
At the moment, Shah has not been charged criminally. It is also not confirmed if he is under investigation or not. According to officials, Shah retired shortly after he was removed from his $101,039-a-year job. His pension benefits were suspended pending the allegations against him.
News Source: www.NorthJersey.com