Annie Dookhan, former state chemist accused of mishandling evidence, sets date for change of plea

Annie Dookhan charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and tampering with evidence while working at a former Department of Public Health drug lab sits with her father Rasheed Khan during a hearing at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. Friday's hearing concerned a sentencing memo laying out the length of Dookhan's imprisonment and probation if she changes her plea to guilty. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Annie Dookhan sat with her father, Rasheed Khan, during a recent hearing at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston
Stephan Savoia/AP

Annie Dookhan, the former state chemist whose alleged mishandling of evidence has thrown thousands of drug cases into jeopardy, appears poised to change her plea to guilty.

A change of plea hearing has been slated for Nov. 22 in her case.

“The defendant has indicated to the court that she will likely change her plea to guilty,” said Brad Puffer, a spokesman for Attorney General Martha Coakley.

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Dookhan’s attorney, Nicolas Gordon, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball last week issued a ruling last saying she would not exceed a prison sentence of three to five years if Dookhan pleaded guilty to charges that include evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. She said she would also impose two years of probation.

Prosecutors had requested a five-to-seven-year sentence for Dookhan. Gordon had argued for a maximum sentence of one year.

Sentencing guidelines called for a maximum sentence of three years for Dookhan, but Ball said she wanted to impose a tougher sentence “given the magnitude of the harm she has done, considerations of general deterrence and, particularly, punishment.”

Puffer said, “It is the defendant’s decision whether or not to plead guilty and the judge’s decision to determine the sentence. Our office has not agreed to any plea deal and we are prepared to go to trial and prove our case before a jury.”