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SF Crime Lab Investigation: 25 Drug Cases Dropped

By Kamika Dunlap on March 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Several felony drug cases were dropped as the investigation of the SF crime lab continues.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Deborah Madden, 60, a retired lab technician is accused of tampering and stealing drugs from the SF crime lab.

Officials say the alleged tampering problem involving the lab technician could affect a number of the 6,000 drug-related cases. The lab handles as many as 50 drug cases a day.

So far, 25 drug cases were dismissed at the Hall of Justice because of questions surrounding the police crime lab and the former technician.

The crime lab is the process of being re-accredited. 

Authorities say Madden stole and used powdered cocaine she was supposed to be testing.

She worked for the lab for 29 years and earned $122,000 last year in salary and overtime, officials said.

To date, only the six cases have been discovered where she allegedly skimmed the drugs but the investigation is continuing.

Since her abrupt retirement as a criminalist, she has been in treatment for drugs and alcohol. Madden also faces weapons counts as a result of a police search that allegedly turned up a gun at her home. 

Authorities said because of a 2008 misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence she was not supposed to possess a weapon.

In the lab, Madden's job was to vouch for the weight and purity of seized drugs but instead used the cocaine, authorities said.

The San Francisco Police Department is working with the American Society of Crime Lab Directors and the California Association of Crime Lab Directors to conduct an independent audit of the crime lab.

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