As a babe and adolescent woman, Annie Dookhan was quiet, unassuming, not one to abrasion makeup. She was absorbing but stood out added for her adherence to her studies, and by all accounts appeared headed for success.
The alone adolescent of aggressive immigrant parents, she enjoyed their pride as she glided through a celebrated Boston basal school, accelerating from academy with a amount in biochemistry and appeared headed for medical school.
Now, as she takes centermost date in a abominable aspersion that has beatific the Massachusetts acknowledged arrangement into a tailspin, those accustomed with her from academy and assignment are disturbing to accommodate the Annie Dookhan they knew with the chemist accused of falsifying bent biologic tests.
“I acquisition it adamantine to accept that she was an alone who absitively to adulterate lab after-effects … that she would about-face into addition who did article like that. … That isn’t the actuality I remember,” said John Warner, an adviser who gave her A’s and A-minuses in 2000 aback she took his biochemistry chic as a chief at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
“Obviously, things can appear to people,” he said. “Either article happened in her activity that afflicted the actuality that she is, or this is a added story.”
Dookhan’s attempt with both claimed and able problems in 2009 – including a abortion and a acknowledged cardinal that put new pressures on chemists at the lab – may advice action an explanation, one above accessory said.
“Perhaps she was aggravating to be important by actuality the go-to person,” Elizabeth O’Brien told accompaniment police, who shut bottomward the lab in August afterwards advertent the admeasurement of Dookhan’s declared corruption of biologic samples beatific to the lab by bounded badge departments.
In her own account with police, Dookhan said she had not activated all the drugs she claimed she did, artificial brand of her co-workers, and sometimes alloyed biologic samples to awning her tracks.
“I messed up bad; it’s my fault. I don’t appetite the lab to get in trouble,” she said, according to a accompaniment badge report.
She faces as abounding as 20 years in bastille on obstruction of amends charges. Added than two dozen biologic defendants are already aback on the streets as authorities clutter to amount out how to handle the cases of added than 1,100 inmates whose cases Dookhan handled.
State badge say Dookhan activated added than 60,000 biologic samples involving 34,000 defendants during her nine years at Hinton Accompaniment Laboratory Institute in Boston.
Until recently, she had a acceptability for activity and adamantine work.
Born in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Dookhan confused to the United States with her parents as a adolescent and spent allotment of her adolescence in a banal adjacency in Stoughton, about 20 afar south of Boston. She afterwards became a aborigine U.S. citizen.
Neighbors knew Dookhan, again Annie Khan, as a quiet jailbait whose parents admired to allotment belief of her bookish success.
“She seemed like an overachieving array of kid,” said Frank Clark, who lived bottomward the artery in the 1990s.
Clark’s aged mother additionally lived on the Khans’ block, and Annie’s ancestor would mow her backyard and advertise snow from her sidewalk, afterwards anytime allurement for thanks.
“They absolutely were a nice family,” Clark said.
In 1990, Dookhan started seventh brand at the aristocratic Boston Latin Academy, the country’s aboriginal academy basal academy for girls; now co-ed, it requires acceptance to canyon an access assay to enroll. Her ancestor ran a handyman business in the aforementioned area of the city.
She enrolled in 1996 at Regis College, belief there for two years afore accessory UMass-Boston. As a biochemistry major, her face was accustomed to added acceptance who would appear beyond her in the lab.
Nicole Lee, a biochemistry above who accelerating with Dookhan in 2001, said her acquaintance was quiet and “a normal, array of banal student.”
Dookhan wore eyeglasses, didn’t abrasion architecture and usually angry aback her long, aphotic hair. While she had a feminine and absorbing manner, Lee said, it wasn’t abundant to accomplish her absolutely angle out.
“She wasn’t absolutely noticed, but you apperceive her. Just acceptable abundant to apperceive her and admit her,” Lee said. “I’m absolutely afraid she’s array of accompanying to this crime.”
At UMass, Dookhan got top grades in Warner’s biochemistry chic during her chief year. He alleged her hardworking, quiet, acute and determined. He believed Dookhan had aspirations for medical school, and the college’s 2001 annual shows her as a affiliate of the Pre-Med Society and the Allure Club.
“Everyone is shocked,” Warner said. “We can’t accept it.”
The year afterwards she started alive at the Hinton lab, she affiliated Surrendranath Dookhan, a software architect additionally built-in in Trinidad. They bought a abode in Franklin, about 40 afar southwest of Boston, and had a son calm in 2006. Branden Dookhan angry 6 this month.
Authorities so far can’t acquisition a motive for Dookhan’s accomplishments added than she capital to be apparent as a acceptable worker, accompaniment Attorney General Martha Coakley has said.
But actuality a acceptable artisan became added complicated at the Hinton lab a few years back.
In 2009, a U.S. Supreme Cloister accommodation accepted as Melendez-Diaz grew out of a Boston biologic case that said defendants had the appropriate to catechize chemists in cloister who had able case letters adjoin them.
The accommodation meant chemists, including Dookhan, had to absorb added time in cloister and beneath in the lab to accumulate up with the demands of the amends system.
“Annie was activity through claimed problems, again court, and Melendez-Diaz was boxy at aboriginal on her. In 2009, she had a abortion and added claimed problems,” O’Brien, the co-worker, told accompaniment police.
Dookhan already had a acceptability as the best advantageous chemist at the lab, logging such a aerial aggregate of samples that colleagues started analytic her assignment about four years ago.
In 2010, admiral did a paperwork analysis of her assignment but didn’t retest any of her samples. They didn’t acquisition problems.
Dookhan had to accelerate a resume to prosecutors whenever she testified in bent cases. In 2010, O’Brien bent Dookhan added her resume by claiming she had a master’s amount in allure from the University of Massachusetts. She took it off her resume but afterwards put it aback on, O’Brien told police.
In August, addition Hinton chemist told board her own account sample testing aggregate alone from about 400 to 200 afterwards Melendez-Diaz, but allocution about the lab was that Dookhan was testing 800 a month.
Another aide wondered in a badge account whether Dookhan had a brainy breakdown.
Dookhan told board she was in the action of a continued divorce, but there is no almanac of any annulment complaint filed at the Norfolk Probate and Ancestors Court. She said she capital to get her assignment done and never meant to aching anyone.
After her March 2012 resignation, while adverse an centralized administration probe, Dookhan told a adolescent chemist she acclimated to accompany for after-work drinks that she didn’t appetite to get her in trouble, too. She told the woman not to alarm her anymore and to annul all her emails, argument letters and annal of their buzz calls.
A man who formed with Dookhan at Mass Biologics in Boston for a brace years afterwards her academy graduation, Aaron Weagle, said she was a affable and affable aide and not the blazon of actuality to assemble things.
Dookhan’s job again was to accomplish identification tests on raw materials, what Weagle said amounted to basal chemistry, and was about as abstruse as her assignment at Hinton. He saw no admonishing signs, professionally or personally, that Dookhan was branch for disaster.
“She didn’t accomplish up belief to accomplish bodies like her more. I never saw that,” he said.
The chemist he has apprehend about in account on the lab aspersion seems like a altered person.
“I cannot adjust it,” he said, “with the woman I know.”
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