FOREST HILLS—Annie Dookhan, the former drug lab chemist at the heart of an evidence-tampering scandal at Jamaica Plain’s State Laboratory Institute, was arrested today on charges that include lying about holding a master’s degree. While state officials are portraying the scandal as an isolated incident, a former State Lab chief got in trouble in 2003 for claiming to hold a doctorate that he had bought online from an unaccredited university.
Ralph Timperi, the former director of the State Lab, represented himself as holding a Ph.D. without noting that it came from an Argentina-based mail-order college that essentially sold degrees for $500 without requiring classes or a dissertation, as the Boston Globe and Harvard Crimson reported at the time.
Timperi later renounced the degree and was allowed to keep his job, according to Globe articles at the time.
State health officials have portrayed Dookhan as a rogue chemist who fooled everyone, and say that there is no further review of the 17 other labs in the State Lab complex at 305 South St., some of which also handle dangerous or sensitive substances. But police interviews with chemists who worked with Dookhan, published online this week by the Globe and the Boston Herald, suggest a lab culture that allowed for lapses in security, lab tests and personnel background checks. And the drug lab had a similar incident in 1985, when a chemist was indicted on charges of stealing cocaine that was evidence in criminal cases, as the Gazette reported yesterday.