MINEOLA, NY (AP / WCBS 880) – The district attorney is calling for expanded retesting of drug evidence handled by the shuttered Nassau County Police Crime Lab to include misdemeanor drug cases as well as felonies.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story
Legal expert attorney Vincent Trimarco, Jr. says that if a person was wrongly convicted, they could have a lawsuit against Nassau County.
“Let’s say a doctor lost his license to practice because of a conviction based on a false affidavit signed by one of the people in the crime lab or just improper testing or tainted evidence or whatever the case, that’s a serious problem,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall. “If you were unjustly convicted of as crime based on evidence that either didn’t exist or was mishandled or was tainted or whatever the case, you have a significant claim against the county.”
He said another possible case would be a truck driver convicted of driving under the influence of drugs and was then fired and could not find another job.
County district attorney spokesman John Byrne told Newsday that a review of old cases raised concerns about cross-contamination of evidence.
He said the number of misdemeanor retesting and the time span involved have not been determined.
But Joseph Lo Piccolo, president of the county Criminal Courts Bar Association, said retesting will have to go back several years to see how many people may have been wrongly charged because of mishandling of evidence.
The police department declined comment and the district attorney and county executive would not comment further because they say they were directed by the attorney general not to speak publicly about the cases.
The lab was closed earlier this year. The accrediting agency placed it on probation in late 2010 for failing to meet national standards.
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