Thursday, May 17, 2001

Drug-alcohol lab technician fired

Police say he failed to recertify

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A technician linked to potentially hundreds of faulty blood-alcohol and drug tests has been fired for not keeping a lab license current.

        Police fired Mark Shaw on Monday for continuing to perform the tests after his permit with the Ohio Department of Health expired in 1999. Officials say Mr. Shaw, 34, took the exams to be recertified, but did not give the results to the department as required by law.

        “He said it wasn't his responsibility and that he was overworked and didn't have the time,” Deputy Chief John Rockwell said. “Obviously, the city doesn't accept that rationale.”

        Deputy Chief Rockwell said the division is reviewing all blood-alcohol, drug and DNA tests conducted by Mr. Shaw between October 1999 and November 2000. Federal agencies are among the 54 law enforcement bureaus that contract with the division for lab work, including DNA testing.

        Analysts started auditing Mr. Shaw's work last month after crime lab manager Jami St. Clair questioned his procedures. Ms. St. Clair and Chief Deputy Rockwell would not say what Mr. Shaw is accused of doing wrong. Mr. Shaw couldn't be reached for comment.

        Mr. Shaw started working for the division in December 1994. By 1999, he was doing most of the blood and urine tests for the lab. He also calibrated breath-test machines the division uses to estimate alcohol consumption, Chief Deputy Rockwell said.

        Mr. Shaw was removed from the lab in November, when his state permit was revoked, and assigned to clerical duties after supervisors learned of the certification issue. Lab technicians and directors are required to renew their permits with the state every two years.

        Defense attorneys, meanwhile, await word on the names and numbers of cases that could be affected.

        “There's no telling the extent to which this chemist compromised the judicial system by talking to juries about the blood-alcohol tests and drug tests he did — the very linchpins of many cases,” lawyer Sam Shamansky said. “The department has opened a real trick bag. There's no telling where his misdeeds ended. It boggles the mind.”


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