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Rice: Police Errors To Blame For L.I. Crime Lab Problems

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Nassau County Crime Lab (credit: File Photo)

Nassau County Crime Lab (credit: File Photo)

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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Nassau District Attorney plans to have drug evidence in as many as 3,000 cases retested because of questions over the accuracy of results from the Nassau County crime lab.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera with DA Kathleen Rice who said police errors are to blame for the crime lab problems

In her first public comments since a judge threw out a DWI conviction earlier this week, Kathleen Rice announced a major retesting plan Thursday and said all expenses related to crime lab retesting must come out of the Nassau County Police Department’s forfeiture fund.

“This is a nightmare, I am just as outraged as all the taxpayers that this is happening, that these police errors have put us in this position,” Rice said.

Rice said the cost of the retesting has yet to be determined but that the police department must bear the expense, not taxpayers.

“This whole situation came about because of police errors and I do not believe that taxpayers should be stuck with the bill,” Rice said.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall finds out from DA Rice what will happen to the cases.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano agreed that lab retesting expenses should come out of the police department’s asset forfeiture fund. “It’s a legitimate proper use of the dollars,” said Mangano, adding it’s “taking criminals’ money and helping keep them in jail”.

Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said he would not disclose the amount of money in the asset forfeiture fund. He said the money usually involves multiple agencies and ongoing investigations that are confidential in nature.

“The statement that District Attorney Rice has made regarding Asset forfeiture funds being used to confirm the results of previously tested drugs is accurate. The Nassau County Police Department has been exploring that option and stands ready to engage the process,” Smith said.

Rice wants to review all blood-alcohol cases over the past three years. That’s a significant increase from last month when Rice said she’d ask for a review of 20 percent of the cases.

Rice’s office said the majority of felony drug cases from 2008-2009 that will be retested have been disposed of in the courts.

On Monday, a judge ordered a retrial in a drunken driving case because of revelations of inaccuracies involving drug analysis at the lab. It’s the first case ordered retried since the lab was shut down last month.

Rice announced the following:

- There will be retesting of  all felony drug cases from 2008, 2009, and 2010. There are approximately 2,700-3,000 drug cases that will be retested.

- There will be a technical review of all BAC cases going back to 2006 (about 1,000 cases). Once the review  is done, a decision will be made on which BAC cases, if any, to retest.

- The National Medical Services (NMS) lab in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania will be handling all new drug testing and all re-testing of samples. Blood drug testing has been going to NMS for years.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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