Lab Tech to Plead to Theft in Cocaine Scandal


Federal prosecutors and former San Francisco police lab technician Deborah Madden have agreed there won’t be a third felony fraud trial on charges she stole cocaine evidence from the lab. Both sides indicated Tuesday in a court hearing that Madden has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine theft, the Chronicle reports.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston issued an order setting March 15 to accept a plea agreement from Madden.

The 62-year-old Madden spent 29 years as a civilian criminalist at San Francisco’s Hunters Point laboratory. In 2009 she was accused of pilfering small amounts of cocaine for personal use from evidence packets she was testing for criminal cases. The uproar that followed forced San Francisco prosecutors to dismiss hundreds of drug cases and shut the drug lab. The work is now done by contract with outside labs.

In February, the second federal jury failed to agree on whether Madden had stolen the cocaine from the lab. She did tell investigators in 2010 she had taken home small amounts of cocaine that had fallen out of evidence packets. The amounts were roughly equal to the amount of power in an individual sugar package.

She told police she used the cocaine to fight the effects of her alcohol problems.

Case: U.S. v. Madden, No. CR11-879SI



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