Military and Police

Did Rogue State Drug Lab Chemist Create Domino Effect Leading to Murder of Yarmouth Policeman?

The travesty of justice which culminated in the murder of Yarmouth police Officer Sean Gannon, 32, may have been negated if it were not for an unethical, rogue state drug lab chemist named Annie Dookhan.

Yarmouth police Officer Gannon and his K9 partner “Nero” attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Thursday, April 12, 2018. The individual named in the warrant is Thomas Latanowich, a 29-year-old career criminal. At the outset, it appeared Latanowich had no intention of going with law enforcement officials. As OpsLens reported, Officer Gannon was shot and killed by Latanowich, and K9 Nero remains in an animal hospital recovering from a gunshot wound to the face.

Now, Latanowich, Officer Gannon, K9 Nero, and Annie Dookhan are interconnected.

What makes me believe Latanowich was one of thousands of cases tossed because of Dookhan’s unethical, immoral, criminal and plain prejudiced view of drug suspects whose police-impounded “samples” were sent to her lab? MassLive.com printed the following blurb at the end of an article they published on Dookhan: “[Forensic services director for the state Committee for Public Counsel Services, Anne] Goldberg said Hinton lab handled drug evidence for prosecutions in nine counties, including thousands of defendants from North Shore, South Shore, South Coast and the Cape and Islands. The possibility of evidence tampering dates back to at least 2003, the year Dookhan was hired.”

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe was one of the first justice system authorities to speak on Officer Gannon’s death and the alleged shooter, Latanowich, saying “it will all be reviewed.” He was referring to the question How is it that Latanowich, with 114 cumulative criminal charges spanning 12 years, was freely walking among society? Many are awaiting the answer.

Yarmouth, Mass. police Officer Sean Gannon and his K9 partner “Nero.” (Credit: Facebook/Summit Police Department)

Looking at the variables, players, timetable and grotesque circumstances, it stands to reason that Latanowich slipped through the criminal justice net…thanks to the twisted mentality of Dookhan.

Latanowich’s criminal string started with a drug distribution arrest when he was a 17-year-old. Besides firearms charges, drug arrests amassed throughout his life and never waned. Thus it defaults to the one drug lab where any drugs seized as evidence by police would have been dispatched to the very drug lab employing Dookhan.

Shroomery.org produced materials centered on the malfeasant activities of Dookhan who has been described as “a hormonal chemist who was hoping to get laid”—more on that later. The pressing aspects surrounding Dookhan stem from a label of “rogue chemist” which is rather self-explanatory. In essence, Dookhan was employed as a drug lab chemist testing drug samples impounded by law enforcement agencies, the results of which either proceeded with prosecutions or chucked cases deemed lacking in probable cause based on results produced by Dookhan. It was either positive or negative, an either/or proposition to direct if cases should proceed or be nolle prosequi (abandon or dismiss).

At the time, no one knew Dookhan had a phantom-like persona in the drug lab. Known by colleagues as “super woman” for her seeming ability to handle an excessive caseload, she was “fixing cases” for the sake of braggadocio, superiority, and attention from peers. In doing so, Dookhan unhinged the floodgates whereby an overwhelming number of arrestees were released due to drug lab corruption at the hands (literally) of one purportedly-qualified chemist: Dookhan.

“Norfolk County District Attorney, Michael Morrissey, has been set on the task of reviewing thousands of files to determine who was wrongfully prosecuted.

“I don’t think anyone ever perceived that one person was capable of causing this much chaos,” Morrissey shared with the media. “You can see the entire walls full of boxes…in one of these cardboard boxes, there could be hundreds of cases…in each box.”

As they still sift through the mountain of cases, authorities believe Dookhan’s charade spanned her entire 10-year drug lab tenure.. That is closely compatible with how long it took Latanowich to bloat his criminal history. Interestingly, Officer Gannon’s eight-year police career was largely focused on drug eradication. That is what prized him as the premier drug detection canine officer with Yarmouth PD. Among the massive scale of drug cases falsified by Dookhan, how many might have Officer Sean Gannon signatures upon arrest affidavits? Drug samples he seized and placed in her hands for prosecutorial merit?

No one envies the monumental ongoing task of prosecutors and investigators poring over the roughly 60,000 cases which Dookhan bastardized in the name of personal insecurity and narcissistic nuances. Yet it must be sterilized with due diligence based on constitutional tenets and pure jurisprudence.

The oddly feeble-minded self-serving scientist whose ethics are as valuable as manure had rather adolescent revelations to offer regarding her complicit criminality impacting thousands: “I screwed up big time. I messed up. I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.” Gee, how noble.

No, those words have as much strength, conviction, and integrity as wet toilet tissue. Dookhan’s apologies smack of a delusional belief system. The pathology of Dookhan makes one wonder the clashing biochemistry swirling in the ecosystem of a chemist sworn to uphold ethical standards in the name of justice. I use the word “complicit” because this allegedly involves a then-prosecutor whose urgings reportedly were the objects fueling Dookhan’s affections for him.

The Boston Globe originated the backstory pertaining to a seemingly scrupulous professional relationship between Dookhan and one of the district’s prosecutors named George Papachristos who, in one of several written communiques he sent to her, telegraphed a winky-winky, let’s-hold-hands tone: “Glad we are on the same team.” Shroomery.org claimed Papachristos “once wrote Dookhan—including one day in May 2010 when he told her he needed a marijuana sample to weigh at least 50 pounds so that he could charge the owners with drug trafficking.”

Shroomery claims the following email correspondence ensued between Dookhan and Papachristos: “Any help would be greatly appreciated!” he wrote, punctuating each sentence with a long string of exclamation points. “Thank you!”

“Two hours later, Dookhan responded: ‘OK…definitely Trafficking, over 80 lbs.’ ­Papachristos thanked her profusely.”

Boston Globe‘s expose clearly floated the cupid hearts and chemistry ostensibly comingled in the Dookhan/ Papachristos beaker, once candidly conveying her desire for a man “to love me and make me laugh and smile.” Whether in love or science, Dookhan was a cheater. Ultimately, it all came crashing down, hearts were popped, and thousands of alleged defendants awaited fate at the hands of a modern-day mad scientist whose work botched the lives of many to make her…look good.

The married chemist had a crush while the thousands of accused were crushed by charges which may not have had any merit whatsoever. Yes, Dookhan was married when she made advancements toward getting chummy with Papachristos. At the outset, state attorneys general and several state troopers interviewed Papachristos and ultimately indemnified him of any wrongdoing.

Now that you have some semblance of who was potentially responsible for the Yarmouth cop-killer’s destiny, the likelihood that Officer Gannon would still be alive is real. Officer Gannon’s wife will never know what it could have been like to mother children with Sean by her side. The full weight of would-be parental pause is forever upon her. Victimhood extends far beyond what has been reported by the media, as is often the case. A wife became a widow the day her one and only suitor with whom the reality of starting a family was nullified.

Call it a stretch or too extreme, but two actors pulled the trigger on Officer Gannon: the first metaphorical shot was triggered by Annie Dookhan and the second was fired by Thomas Latanowich. That may sound harsh but in the lineage of events one individual led to the availability of another. One was more of a white collar culprit while the other stewed and served savagery to justice officials.

In all this there hangs in the balance a massive entity: the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, a state authority responsible for onboarding Dookhan and maintaining her in their employ throughout the integrity betrayal. That factor also may seem crass, but when we connect the dots leading up to April 12, 2018 in Yarmouth, Massachusetts…the constellations are clear, minus the twinkle. Was the state’s vetting protocol inadequate, leading Dookhan to a job she was ill-qualified to fulfill? Had she been disqualified by the state, would Latanowich’s case been handled accordingly, effectively never crossing paths with Officer Gannon?

Had none of Dookhan’s fiasco transpired, would Latanowich have been adjudicated differently and directed elsewhere (jail)? Would Officer Gannon be walking among us?

There appears to have been some official connection between the now-closed lab and the Massachusetts State Police. Per Shroomery.org, “The State Police have closed the lab altogether, and at least five officials respon­sible for oversight of the lab have resigned or been fired.”

On November 26, 2013 The Associated Press reported that the “Massachusetts State Police have fired an analyst who worked at a state drug lab after questions arose about her academic credentials. State officials say Kate Corbett said she has a chemistry degree from Merrimack College, though investigators determined that her degree is in sociology.” Corbett worked in the exact same drug lab as Dookhan.

Even though reports indicate the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute is now defunct due to incompetency and utter disrepute, the state is still on the hook for conjoining and employing precedent failures. I wonder if Mrs. Gannon will arrive at that conclusion, perhaps with a civil litigator.

“In 2013, Annie Dookhan plead guilty to falsifying evidence while working at a police lab in Massachusetts. As many as 40,000 people may have been wrongfully convicted as a result” while guilty parties may have been freed because of such corruption. (Credit: Facebook/Libertarian Party of Louisiana)

CBS News’ Christina Hager reported from the courthouse after Dookhan changed her plea to “Guilty” (yeah, she initially was going to fight the charges) and was sentenced by Judge Kara Ball. “Her behavior caused innocent people to be locked up, guilty people to be set free [Latanowich?], and cost the public millions and millions of dollars,  shaking the justice system to the core,” said Hager.

Any brilliant-minded and meticulous litigator connecting the dots regarding the tragic slaying of Yarmouth police Officer Sean Gannon and former state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan will realize the crystal-clear trajectory leading up to alleged cop-killer Thomas Latanowich coldly opening fire and murdering a cop whose job was serving an arrest warrant on a chronic law violator. The question remains: Did Dookhan’s nefarious, self-aggrandizing persona contribute to Latanowich’s fortune of having any of his drug arrests disposed of instead of being adjudicated and, perhaps, culminating in a state prison stint? Off the streets equals no violence other than prison culture pushbacks.

Would the murderous interaction between Officer Gannon and career criminal Latanowich have been precluded if it were not for a Judas priestess amongst the Massachusetts state health department bastardizing prosecutorial evidence? Law of probability?

A Boston media outlet alluded that at least “one of the cases dismissed against Latanowich last year involved disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan.”

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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