Annie Dookhan And The Massachusetts Drug Lab Crisis

Drug Defendant’s Guilty Plea Stands Despite Dookhan Connection


A Boston Municipal Court judge has ruled that a man cannot withdraw his guilty plea to drug charges because a state chemist has been indicted on charges of falsifying drug tests, according to a statement from the Suffolk County District Attorney.

The ruling, authored by Judge Patricia Bernstein, says that 28-year-old Brian Bubanas’ conviction on heroin charges remains in place. The ruling said that Bubanas did not prove that the indictment of former chemist Annie Dookhan means he can withdraw his guilty plea.

“[The] defendant has not raised any additional ground that the particular drugs found in the possession of the defendant are in any way tainted apart from the fact that they were brought to the lab where [Annie] Dookhan was working,” the statement quotes from Bernstein’s ruling. “The court concludes based on the information contained in defense counsel’s affidavit and the commonwealth’s memorandum that drugs seized in the instant case were likely not affected … As previously noted, no evidence has been proffered that this particular substance was connected in any way to the alleged misdeeds of the one chemist at the state lab who has been charged with criminal wrongdoing or that the factual basis underlying the plea was invalid.”

Boston Police say they recovered six plastic bags of a substance believed to be heroin, a dozen prescription pills and empty baggies after they executed a search warrant for Bubanas’ home in September of 2011. Before the drug certificates were completed, Bubanas pleaded guilty to drug possession charges. Bubanas stated that the substance believed to be heroin was in fact heroin. In January, Bubanas moved to withdraw his plea because of the state drug lab crisis. But Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office argued against that.

“If the evidence doesn’t support a case, then we don’t pursue it,” Conley said. “The evidence in this case unquestionably supports the charge and the conviction. The judge here made the right and sensible call on the facts and the law. The crisis at the DPH lab, as grave as it is, is not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for everyone ever convicted of a drug offense, as some have suggested.”


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