It’s a good day to be a New Jersey drug dealer. One lazy lab technician in the Garden State has compromised nearly 8,000 criminal cases, and the result may be the release and/or record expunction of many convicted of drug crimes.
Kamalkant Shah, a laboratory technician for the State Police, was accused of “dry labbing” a sample of supposed marijuana in a memo from Little Falls Public Defender Joseph Krakora, as reported by NJ.com.
“Dry labbing” is an awesomely technical term that means in fact, not chemically testing a substance at all before recording the lab results. Other equally applicable terms would be “eyeballing” or “guessing.”
Shah’s motives don’t appear to be sourced in a trying to frame a suspect or corruption. He just skipped a step because he was too lazy to do the actual testing. “Basically, he was observed writing ‘test results’ for suspected marijuana that was never tested,” read Fallon’s memo.
Following the discovery of his negligence, Shah was taken off lab duty last December and suspended without pay in January. So far, the technician has not been charged with a crime and he may have unofficially retired, according to Office of the Attorney General spokesperson Peter Aseltine.
This is the only time Shah has been discovered getting up to funny business in the crime lab, but once is enough to call into question any case that the tech has ever worked on. “In an abundance of caution, we have identified every case that Shah worked on since he began working in the North Regional Lab Drug Unit in 2005, and we have notified the county prosecutors, advising them to alert defense attorneys in those cases,” Aseltine said.
“There are a total of 7,827 cases statewide, with the largest numbers being in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.”
It’s not yet clear what impact Shah’s shenanigans will have on the legion of drug cases he’s been involved in, according to NJ.com, but the news source says that those who plead guilty to to drug crimes probably won’t get a chance to repeal their convictions.
Fallon says the prosecutor’s office plan “is to submit for retesting specimens from open cases. The larger, and unanswered, question is how this impacts already resolved cases, especially those where the specimens may have been destroyed.”
So, if you’re a Jersey land slinger who got busted, as long as you didn’t open your big mouth to the cops after your arrest, you might have a chance to go scott free soon enough. Fingers crossed.