DPH head resigns in drug lab scandal

State Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner John Auerbach, a Jamaica Plain resident, resigned today amid the growing scandal surrounding the now-closed state drug lab at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in JP.

The drug lab, which was located at the Institute at 305 South St. and examined drug evidence in criminal trials, was shut down on Aug. 30 amid concerns that a former chemist mishandled thousands of drug samples, potentially tainting many convictions.

“It is clear that there was insufficient quality monitoring, reporting and investigating on the part of supervisors and managers surrounding the former Department of Public Health drug lab in Jamaica Plain—and ultimately, as commissioner, the buck stops with me,” said Auerbach in a press release. “What happened at the drug lab was unacceptable and the impact on people across the state may be devastating, particularly for some within the criminal justice system.”

Last week, it was announced that Dr. Linda Han, who oversaw all 18 public labs at the Institute as director of Bureau of Laboratory Sciences, resigned. Julie Nassif, who served as the director of the analytic chemistry division, was fired. Disciplinary proceedings for the former chemist’s direct supervisor have begun.

John Auerbach. (Gazette File Photo)

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