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November 19, 2004
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Md. Lab Says No Criminal Cases Affected by Falsified DNA Tests

The Associated Press

GERMANTOWN, Md. (AP) - No criminal cases were affected by allegedly falsified DNA tests done by a former analyst at the world's largest private DNA testing firm, a company official said Thursday.

The analyst, fired in September by Orchid Cellmark, reportedly faked data on 20 tests for the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI, prompting some defense attorneys to call for a review of the affected cases.

But Paul Kelly, chief executive of Cellmark owner Orchid BioSciences, said Cellmark reanalyzed the lab worker's tests and the results remained the same.

"There have been no cases that were adversely affected," Kelly said.

He would not give details on the cases involved.

Citing a letter sent by Cellmark to the Los Angeles Police Department crime laboratory in September, The (Baltimore) Sun reported that DNA analyst Sarah Blair had substituted data for some control samples at Cellmark's Germantown lab, which could have cast doubt on the results.

Kelly said Blair was fired for "professional misconduct." She had worked there about a year.

Blair, in a telephone interview with The Sun, denied the allegations. "I explained everything to the company when I left," she said. "I'm still sticking to the same story that I'm innocent."

The alleged tampering prompted the Los Angeles County public defender's office to begin reviewing all pending cases involving Cellmark, none of which had gone to trial, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

Cellmark has analyzed evidence in several high-profile cases, including those involving O.J. Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, the Unabomber and the Green River killer. Police departments throughout the world have used the lab's services.

The company was awarded a three-year, $2.7 million contract in January to test cases for the Los Angeles Police Department. It runs about 250 DNA tests each year for the department.

The lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, which said the alleged tampering should not affect the company's standing.






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