Bergen County NJ Drug Convictions Could Be Tossed after Lab Tech Caught Faking Marijuana Results
Several thousand NJ criminal convictions may be in doubt after a lab tech who worked for the New Jersey State Police admitted to faking evidence in a drug case.
Kamalkant Shah worked as a lab technician for the New Jersey State Police North Regional Lab Drug Unit, which has a location in Little Falls NJ. He has been accused of “dry labbing” a substance suspected to be marijuana.
When authorities first discovered the deception on December 10, 2015, they opened an investigation into Shah. At the time, Shah was removed from lab work with the police. Once investigators uncovered enough evidence of wrongdoing, Shah was formally suspended without pay on January 12, 2016.
On February 22, Ellie Honig, the director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, sent a letter to NJ county prosecutors’ offices and informed prosecutors that Shah had “failed to appropriately conduct laboratory analyses in a drug case.” Honig also told local prosecutors to make sure to disclose this information to criminal defense attorneys in current drug crime cases.
Moreover, Honig indicated that Shah was caught “recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis.” In fact, it was the short amount of time that Shah spent on the marijuana sample in that case that raised the suspicions of officials.
The allegations against Shah were also detailed in a memo sent by New Jersey Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon to NJ Public Defender Joseph Krakora on February 29. The memo makes it clear that authorities are accusing Shah of completely making up important data in the marijuana possession case. According to the New Jersey deputy public defender, Shah “was observed writing ‘test results’ for suspected marijuana that was never tested.”
The memo was made public on March 2 via the NJ Municipal Court Law Update Service’s official website.
Due to Shah’s deception, the criminal convictions in the cases he worked on could potentially be overturned. Shaw is said to have worked on 7,827 criminal cases during his tenure with the police, which started in 2005. Although investigators uncovered just one instance of misconduct by Shah, the possibility remains that the evidence in all of the criminal cases could be tainted. The cases come from all across NJ, including Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, and Passaic County. In Passaic County, the number of contaminated cases may exceed 2,100.
New Jersey prosecutors believe that Shah committed the deception in his capacity as a lab technician with the NJ State Police, but they have not yet charged him with any crimes. NJ officials recently indicated that Shah submitted his retirement papers.
The NJ State Police is presently working with local prosecutors in Bergen County and elsewhere in New Jersey to determine the next step in any pending drug cases that Shah might have been connected to.
For additional information about this developing case, check out the NJ.com article, “Lab Tech Allegedly Faked Result in Drug Case; 7,827 Criminal Cases Now in Question.”