On Friday March 15, 63-year-old Deborah Madden, a former San Francisco Police Department crime lab technician, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine taken from the drug analysis lab where she worked in 2009. Madden pleaded guilty in federal court to this reduced misdemeanor charge after two previous trials on federal felony charges of obtaining cocaine via deception, fraud, or subterfuge ended in hung juries.
Madden, who lives in San Mateo, was a crime lab technician at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard; she had been a civilian employee of the Police Department for 29 years when she took leave in December 2009 to enter a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. According to a news article in the San Francisco Examiner, Madden told police investigators that she took small amounts of cocaine in an effort to control problems with alcohol. Madden is accused of taking small amounts of the drug from the lab’s drug analysis unit during the weighing process; she maintains she only took the excess that spilled.
News reports claim that the drug analysis unit was closed temporarily due to Madden’s actions along with other problems. Additionally, the district attorney was forced to dismiss numerous criminal cases which were dependent on the drug evidence analyzed in the lab.
According to Madden’s defense attorney Paul DeMeester, his client has been “clean and sober” since her stint in rehab in 2009; she is now studying to obtain her degree so that she can become a counselor for those with substance abuse issues.
During the two previous trials in October of 2012 and January of this year, prosecutors argued that Madden had worked late in the fall of 2009 on more occasions than usual, saying that this was deceptive and an attempt to take cocaine from the lab when no one was around. Madden was also accused of taking cocaine from ten evidence envelopes which resulted in the weight of the drug being approximately one-half ounce short upon being reweighed in the course of the investigation.
If Madden had been convicted on previous felony charges, she would have faced a maximum of four years in prison; the plea agreement will leave her facing a maximum of one year in prison. Madden is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on July 19 of this year.
San Francisco drug possession attorneys understand the serious criminal penalties individuals may face when found guilty on charges of possessing drugs. Sentencing typically hinges on the type and amount of drug involved, and whether the individual has a previous criminal record.
If you have been arrested for or charged with possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, or other illegal drugs/substances, do not hesitate before contacting an experienced San Francisco criminal defense lawyer.