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1 fired, 1 suspended at NY medical examiner office

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – One person was fired from the New York City medical examiner’s office and another was suspended after a review found that some DNA samples weren’t sent to a state database.

The office announced the actions Thursday. It also said steps had been taken to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that an outside expert will be brought in to do a complete review of the lab’s management.

The review, which was undertaken in the wake of an unrelated rape kit problem, found that 55 DNA samples had been uploaded to a local database only, when they should have been uploaded to a state database. The office said those 55 samples were out of 25,000 samples processed since 2000, when the system was put in place. It was unclear over what time frame the samples in question were improperly handled.

“All profiles must be uploaded and the failure is not acceptable for a world-class DNA lab that prides itself on accuracy and attention to detail,” the lab said.

Of the 55 samples, one led to an investigative lead in connection to a 2006 burglary, while the other 54 didn’t produce any new evidence, the office said.

The office said employees who knew of the problem didn’t report it in a timely manner. The deputy director of quality assurance has been fired and the director suspended pending further review.

Other steps that have been taken include automatic uploading of all eligible DNA profiles, as well as requiring a supervisor to be in the evidence exam rooms at all times.

The review was undertaken after the office found errors made by a laboratory technician who was hired in 2001 and resigned in 2011. The medical examiner’s office determined that the technician, who handled evidence in more than 800 sexual assault cases during her nine-year tenure, failed to detect existing biological evidence in at least two dozen instances.


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