NYPD Lab Tech Allegedly "Faked" Drug-Test Results: Report

Lawyer for embattled tech claims she did nothing wrong

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    372983 02: A civilian scientist working in the Broward County crime lab handles processed DNA extractions that were taken from blood samples of convicted criminals July 13, 2000 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Since the DNA Identification Act of 1994 was passed the Federal Bureau of Investigation has established a national database of DNA taken from the blood samples of convicted criminals. The DNA data is used by law enforcement agencies in 22 states to help identify suspects who were previously unknown to investigators. In Florida, DNA blood samples are mandatory if one is convicted for the following offenses or attempted offenses: Car jacking, murder, sexual assault, lewd or indecent acts, aggravated battery, and home invasion. (Photo by Robert King/Newsmakers)

    An NYPD forensics tech allegedly falsified drug-test results, potentially jeopardizing thousands of criminal cases, according to a published report.

    Authorities suspended Mariem Megalla, a 24-year employee in the police department's forensics lab, for allegedly faking evidence to save time and effort, reports The New York Post.

    Sources told the paper NYPD warned the city's district attorneys last week that they may have to review pending felony cases to determine whether drug-test samples submitted as evidence need to be retested.

    "Shortcuts were done in lieu of retesting … It's not acceptable to take these shortcuts," chief police spokesman Paul Browne told the Post.

    In one case, Megalla allegedly posted a positive cocaine label on the last of 39 samples tested because that final bag showed up negative for the drug while the first 38 tested positive and she didn't want to have to test all the samples over again, reports the Post.

    In another case, she's accused of slapping a positive cocaine tag on a sample that tested negative to avoid trekking to another side of the building to fill out paperwork, according to the Post.

    An attorney for Megalla says his client is innocent of any wrongdoing.

    "She stands behind the position that she hasn't done anything wrong, and she's happy to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies" investigating the allegations," lawyer Benjamin Lieberman told the Post. "The quality of her work has never ever been called into question" in the past.

    Department quality-control staffers discovered the alleged lapses after Megalla first tested the samples late last month in the NYPD's Queens lab.

    The Queens District Attorney's office and the NYPD are both investigating the alleged violations. Sources told the Post Megalla tested samples used as evidence in roughly 180 pending felony cases in 2010 alone.

    The city's special narcotics prosecutor told the Post her office was collaborating with the police and other DA's offices to determine how much, if any, of the evidence pertaining to the open cases needed to be re-tested.