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Misconduct at state crime lab affects local drug cases

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As many as 68 drug cases may have been affected by misconduct at the Montana State Crime Lab. Lake County officials confirm recently dismissing 10 criminal drug possession cases due to a former chemist at the Montana state crime lab being charged with using drugs taken from the lab. 

Lake County Chief Deputy Attorney James Lapotka says the Montana Department of Justice issued letters to county attorneys across the state last week informing them that the Montana State Crime Lab concluded an internal investigation that found an employee had taken evidence that had been submitted to the lab. That employee is currently facing drug possession charges in Missoula County.

Lapokta, who prosecutes the bulk of Lake County’s drug cases says approximately 58 more cases could be impacted. Lapotka says the Attorney General’s office is set to release more details to identify exactly which cases might have been compromised. The county attorney’s office is then required by law to disseminate that information to the defendants named in the case. Lapotka said he expects more cases will be dismissed.


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