It sounded too strange to believe, but it's true -- SFPD investigators delivered illegal drugs to crime lab technician Debbie Madden, while she was under investigation in a drug crime case. You'll recall the San Francisco District Attorney referred the case to the State Attorney General's Office. Last March, Madden admitted to investigators that she took cocaine from samples she tested at the lab, and used it herself. The AG's Office decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence.
Madden's attorney, Paul Demeester, told me while the Attorney General was investigating, SFPD investigators called to say they wanted to return Madden's personal property they had seized from the crime lab. Here's the property receipt form. But, the investigators didn't go through the boxes well -- they returned three proficiency tests Madden had taken in the mid-80's (her maiden name is "Wakida"). Her supervisor gave her three packets of white powder to test -- she found morphine, PCP and ephedrine. Incredibly, when the SFPD investigators returned those proficiency tests to Madden through her lawyer, the drugs were still attached.
Demeester held onto the evidence until the Attorney General's Office announced they weren't going to prosecute Madden. He wanted this story told -- he says it's proof the problems in the crime lab and the SFPD go far beyond his client.
By the way, I had an odd run-in with Lt. Lyn Tomioka, a press information officer for the SFPD. She arranged an interview with Interim Chief Jeff Godown; even sent an email confirming day and time. I showed up at the Hall of Justice with a photographer and she announced Godown would not do the interview -- I'd have to settle for a lower-level official. She complained that I would not provide written questions beforehand. I explained that's against ABC News policy, but I would be happy to discuss the topics in advance of an interview. Think about it -- if a reporter provides written questions beforehand, it could severely limit the line of questioning during the interview. It's important to have a free flow of information and be able to ask follow-up questions. We can't hear, "You didn't provide that question, so I won't answer it." She also argued that I "have a reputation". Thanks. So, I declined the interview with the lower-level official, knowing Chief Godown would be attending last night's Police Commission meeting.
After I approached Godown in the hearing room, he handled the questions well; he can think on his feet. Tomioka should have advised him to do the interview in the first place.