Crime

OSP Bend analyst investigated for 'skimming' drugs from evidence

Deschutes DA: Close to 1,000 cases being reviewed

OSP analyst suspected of 'skimming drugs'

BEND, Ore. - An Oregon State Police forensic analyst is under investigation for "skimming" drugs from evidence she tested at the crime lab in Bend, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said Thursday.

Hummel said the analyst has been involved in 502 cases in Deschutes County alone, and all of those cases have to be re-evaluated. The scandal stretches across the state.

OSP Public Information Officer Lt. Bill Fugate said they have notified every county where the forensic analyst has worked on cases. Klamath County reports 328 cases, Jackson County 110, Crook County 80 and Lake County 19. District attorneys across the state are pulling files and are assessing the damage done.

"This is fraud on a massive scale," Hummel said Thursday.  I'm looking through all the police reports, all the evidence, every piece of evidence that she has analyzed, and we have to determine if her (being) involved in the case might have compromised the verdict."

The cases date back to 2012 in Deschutes County and 2007 in other counties.

"What we are starting with is open cases that have a court date next week," Hummel said.

The OSP analyst, who has been working at the Bend office since 2012, has not been charged yet but is under investigation. Her name has not been released. She was placed on administrative leave.

"I have no doubt (that she will be charged)," Hummel said. "What we are deciding is what the charges will be and whether it will be in Deschutes County or U.S. District Court."

Hummel said he is going to meet with an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice to discuss whether the analyst should be charged with a federal crime.

The Bend crime lab is one of five across the state, and evidence from counties statewide are sent there.

Hummel said in Deschutes County, the OSP analyst  was involved in drug cases, but not any homicide or sexual assault cases.

On Sept. 3, Hummel sent an email to several defense attorneys in Deschutes County, informing them that the analyst "is suspected of 'skimming' drugs from the evidence she tested at the crime lab."

"Our clients' cases are being reviewed right now," said Thomas Spear, defense attorney at DeKalb & Associates in Bend. "We have a fairly large number of drug cases where controlled substances were tested."

Spear said he has to go through roughly 100 cases from this year that were tested at the lab, though he is not sure if they were tested by the analyst in question.

According to Hummel, OSP has assigned other lab technicians to re-test all cases that involved the analyst.

"If you're a public official in the justice system and you've committed a crime, you have committed a crime against everyone in this county -- everyone in this state, actually," Hummel said.

Officials across the state are still assessing the damage done by the analyst.

"The impact on a person's life is tremendous," Spear said.


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