American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

Fraud in a Drug Lab | A Superstar | 1

Fraud in a Drug Lab | A Superstar | 1

Tue, 15 Feb 2022 08:01

Annie Dookhan lands a dream job, testing illegal drugs at a government lab. But facing intense pressure, Dookhan soon wades into criminal territory herself.

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To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. It's July 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Another busy morning at the office of the State Attorney General near Boston, Common. Inside the building, an assistant attorney general sits typing a brief on her laptop. She pauses for a moment, glancing at a stack of papers on her desk. They all need her attention, but it seems like these days there's never enough time. Like much of the staff in the Attorney General's office, recently this attorney has been drowning in drug cases. As one of the lead prosecutors in the state government, she has half a dozen plea bargains she has to approve before noon. The work has to get done. So the assistant attorney general adjusts her glasses, pulls her hair back into a tight bun and keeps typing. It's gonna be a long morning. The assistant attorney general looks up to find a senior officer from the state police in her doorway. The man is tall and lean with a shaved head and a trim mustache. Well, if it isn't my favorite state police official, I wasn't expecting you. Can I come in? I'm swamped, so it's not really the best time. I know you're busy, but I promise this can't really wait. All right, well, move those files off the chair. Sorry. The officer takes a seat. But with just one look, the assistant attorney general can see that something isn't right. Police official seems unusually nervous. Okay, what's going on? It's Hinton, the drug testing lab. Oh god, again? Yes, again. Two employees there came forward. It was pretty wild accusations about one of their colleagues, a fellow chemist. And who was the colleague? Annie Ducan. The assistant attorney general leans back in relief. She knows all about Ducan. As a chemist at Hinton, a state lab where illegal drugs are tested and identified, she's a key part of the legal process as state prosecutors develop their case. Well, that's, that's nothing to be rattle about. We know all about Ducan. She removed some drug samples from an evidence safe. Didn't get the proper permission. I mean, it's a violation of chain of custody. It might be a problem if we need to show there wasn't tampering with the evidence, but Ducan took only about 90 samples. It was a mistake, sure, but we're not worried. The state police official looks away grimacing. No, I'm not talking about chain of custody. The chemists are accusing Ducan of something else, something bigger. Well, what is it? What's the accusation? They're saying she faked her test results. I'm sorry, she faked results for what? The 90 samples? No, no. Everyone has to understand. This is bigger. They're saying Ducan has been faking tests and fabricating evidence for years, years. How many cases are we talking about? Thousands? Maybe tens of thousands. The assistant attorney general leans back in her chair, feeling stunned. Tens of thousands of cases. If that's true, if this chemist somehow tainted the evidence used in prosecution, every single one of those criminal cases could be thrown out or overturned. Every prisoner involved could be allowed to go free. You would be a nightmare for the entire state of Massachusetts and one that could cost millions of dollars. The police official stands and says that's all he knows right now, but he'll be in touch. As he walks out the door, the assistant attorney general grabs her phone and dials her boss. As the phone rings, countless questions race through her mind. She has to figure out whether these allegations are credible. And if they are, she'll need to understand what really happened. How any Ducan managed to get away with faking so many test results? And why? The assistant attorney general can't imagine the answers, but she does plan to find out. When she does, she and her team will prosecute any of Ducan's crimes to the fullest extent of the law. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well, we agree on that too. Sachi Art. They have art works from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Satin, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant. shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting and gardens and landscapes. With around 320 different proprietary varieties, including classics limelight hydrangea and little Henry sweet spire, all of their shrubs are trialed and tested for 8 to 10 years to ensure they outperform anything else on the market. Look for proven winners color choice shrubs in the distinctive white containers at your local garden center. Learn more and find a local retailer at proven winners color choice dot com slash one Dree. That's proven winners color choice dot com slash one Dree. From undery I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. Since the 1970s, the war on drugs has been a mainstay of American life. Politicians at all levels of government have made stamping out drug use a cornerstone of their political agendas. And with a mission to be tough on crime, government leaders have passed laws that severely punish the use and sale of drugs, growing America's already large prison population. Law enforcement may be the most public face of this far reaching campaign, but other state officials are also deeply involved in the prosecution of the war on drugs. They include chemists at state labs where drugs confiscated from alleged criminals are tested and analyzed. These tests play a key role in the legal process with prosecutors using the evidence to help build their cases, but many state labs have been underfunded and understaffed. The same time lab employees have faced intense pressure to produce results even as the demands of their work have grown. When Annie DuConn began working at a drug testing lab in Massachusetts, she wanted to prove that she could get results and help ease the incredible pressure at the lab, but hitting her numbers wouldn't be easy. It would require DuConn to carry out a large scale fraud, one that threw the criminal justice system in Massachusetts into disarray and raised a fierce public debate about the war on drugs. This is Episode 1, A Superstar. It's the year 2000 in a science classroom at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, along the edge of the room are old lab benches, a whiteboard on the walls covered with a series of chemical formulas, and in the middle of the classroom several undergraduate students sit complaining about this week's homework for biochemistry. But one student Annie DuConn isn't joining the conversation. DuConn is soft spoken and petite, standing just 411. Like many of her classmates, she's a biochemistry major. She's always gotten straight A's in science. She has an act for it and she works hard. But DuConn feels uncomfortable spending time with her fellow students before class. She's always felt like an outsider. She's not from Boston. She and her parents immigrated to the United States in the late 80s just over a decade ago. DuConn and her family come from Trinidad and Tobago, an island country in the Caribbean. With her brown skin and straight black hair, she doesn't look like most of the other students in her science classes. And DuConn also doesn't relate to their problems. As she sits waiting for class to begin, she's surprised to hear her classmates saying they couldn't complete half the homework. That doesn't make sense. DuConn didn't find the assignment hard at all, but she's not about to tell her classmates that. She's learned a hard way that standing out means being taunted and picked on. DuConn takes her completed homework and tries to slip it inside a folder. But one of the other students notices. She's a young woman with ripped jeans and blonde hair. She shoots DuConn a look demanding to know where she got the answers. DuConn bristles at the question. Her's an obvious implication here that someone who looks like her couldn't be smart enough to solve the problems. DuConn replies that she didn't get the answers anywhere. She just followed the instructions and did the work. And then, without even thinking, something slips out of DuConn's mouth. She tells the other student that she knows biochemistry because her parents are both doctors. DuConn bites her lip and she waits for the other student's response. Fact is, DuConn just lied. Her parents aren't doctors. Still, a white lie won't hurt anyone. And maybe it'll diffuse the situation. The other student furrows her brow and stares at DuConn. She peppers her with another question. If she comes from such a brilliant and rich family, why isn't DuConn attending a private college? Why is she slummy at it, UMass Boston, a commuter school? She's just trying to make herself seem better than everyone else? DuConn balls up her fists in anger. Now she needs to defend herself. So she fires back saying she used to go to Harvard, but she had to drop out because she couldn't afford it. DuConn swallows hard and waits again for the student to respond. She's lying again. She's never attended Harvard. But making the claims seemed like the fastest way to end the conversation. But this lie hasn't even larger effect. Suddenly, other students turn and start gazing at DuConn with a look of awe. One of them asks if it's true that she really got into Harvard. DuConn hesitates than nods. Then quickly adds that Harvard's not all it's cracked up to be. She likes to people hear better, they're less arrogant. The other students in the classroom suddenly laugh and smile at DuConn. They seem to be warming up to her. That's an overwhelming feeling, one she's not used to. Being looked at with admiration, being made to feel like she's one of them and not an outsider. DuConn would be happy to live with this feeling the rest of her life. But before she can say anything else, the professor finally walks into the classroom and starts racing the whiteboard. Class is about to start. The students all open their notebooks and seem to forget about DuConn and her tales of the Ivy League. But DuConn won't forget what just happened. For a brief flicker of time, she stopped being a nobody. She seemed important. A girl who got into Harvard and it felt like a revelation, even if it was a lie. As the professor starts the lecture, DuConn grabs her pen and starts jotting down notes. She needs to focus on chemistry. But it's hard. Her mind is swirling, already trying to figure out what to say next. What stories could win her even more attention and admiration. A few years later, Vlab is buzzing at mass biologics, a vaccine company in Boston. Chemists and biologists race about with some of them wearing hazmat suits sitting behind thick security doors. Others are dressed in white lab coats and work at lab benches. At one of these benches, Annie DuConn is peering through a microscope at an array of petri dishes. She has to finish a report on a new vaccine by 3 pm. It's a big assignment, so DuConn steadies her hand and concentrates. Her work can't be anything less than perfect. It's been a few years since DuConn graduated college and these days she works for mass biologics doing quality control on vaccines. The company is at the forefront of medical research and DuConn is happy to work at a fast pace. There are also opportunities for advancement with new projects popping up all the time. So as much as she can, DuConn wants to stand out to prove herself as an excellent chemist. That's why she's been putting in extra hours at night and on weekends. DuConn continues looking through the microscope when she hears a noise and looks up. Several of her colleagues are standing around her lab bench grinning. Confused, DuConn asks what's going on. One of her co workers takes her by the hand and leads her away. While DuConn protests, she has to finish her report, but no one will listen. A minute later, they pull her into the break room. Someone flips on the light and yells surprise, and at the center of the room there's a small sheet cake waiting for her. DuConn is confused, it's not her birthday. She doesn't understand what's going on. Someone points to a banner hanging in the corner which says congratulations Annie and one of her colleagues steps forward beaming, saying she knows DuConn doesn't like to make a fuss about herself, but everyone's so proud of her. It takes a monumental effort to finish a graduate program and to get a PhD from Harvard, no less. DuConn shrinks back in embarrassment as her co workers applaud. Radmiration feels good, but once again it's based on the lie. Since her first day at the lab, DuConn has had her eye on a promotion. She of course wants the better pay, but it's the prestige that appeals most, being singled out and acknowledged as exceptional. Unfortunately, DuConn knows that quiet women like herself were often invisible to management. They're easily passed over for promotions, even if they do put in extra hours. DuConn knew if she was going to get promoted, she needed somehow to get a leg up. So she began fudging her credentials. DuConn told everyone at work she was getting her PhD at Harvard through the university's night school program. Even though the truth is, DuConn has still never taken a class at Harvard. The university doesn't even have a night school PhD program. DuConn desperately wanted the promotion, and whenever she mentions Harvard, people look at her with awe and respect. So in the break room, she smiles as she accepts her colleagues congratulations along with a slice of cake. But when they ask about Harvard, she dodges the questions one after the other. She can't have her story fall apart. Because if it does, DuConn won't just miss out on the promotion. She could be fired. Finally, another team walks into the break room, and the impromptu party starts to break up. DuConn feels immense relief. The questioning can stop. Soon DuConn is back at her desk, adjusting her microscope and trying to get back to work. She's a bit shaken from having to keep up all these lies. But she does feel some comfort as she remembers that she isn't her to get one. Her lies are just making the playing field a little more even for someone like her, and it will be worth it. Because soon, she'll walk into her manager's office, be handed a well deserved promotion. Several months later, Annie DuConn is working at her lab bench when she hears someone clear their throat. She turns to see her boss, who smiles and asks whether she has a minute. There's something important he wants to talk about. DuConn suddenly grows weak within his patient. A few days ago, she applied for a new position at mass biologics, a perfect job for her. She wasn't sure how quickly she'd hear back, but judging by the look on her boss's face, seems like he may have some incredible news. DuConn sets down a beaker and looks back up at her boss. Sure, yeah, I've got a few moments. Good. Well, I wanted to take a moment to check in and talk about the new job. Have you made a decision? I have. Let me grab a check. So, Annie, it is more than obvious that you've been working awfully hard this year, and please don't think that we haven't noticed. Well, good. I wanted to do whatever I could to show that I'm serious about this job and look in the company. I want to have an impact, you know, and I know if I have the right position, I can really contribute, and we can see that. But unfortunately, we've decided to go in a different direction with the hiring. For a moment, DuConn stares blankly at her boss. Oh, I see. Annie, don't get me wrong. You are certainly qualified in many respects, but we're looking for someone with more specific experience. And what? Well, leadership potential. We need someone who inspires other people. That's just not in your wheelhouse. For the next few minutes, DuConn's boss continues talking, but DuConn can barely listen. She's crushed. Finally, her boss gets up and walks away. DuConn doesn't know what to make of this. She's unsure whether she got passed over because of the color of her skin, or because she's a woman, or whether there's something else. But whatever it is, it's the last straw. It's been maddening. DuConn knows she deserves better, and now that she's engaged to her boyfriend and plans to have children, she's going to need an increase in her salary. So DuConn pulls up a local job listing site on her computer. And as she scrolls through a long list of positions, one catches her eye. It's for a state drug testing lab, and it specifically mentions a chance for quick advancement. That looks good. The only problem is the lab wants someone with a graduate degree. And even though she's gotten good at telling lies, a new company might actually look into her credentials. She doesn't have a PhD. DuConn looks down, feeling miserable once again. It's like she's trapped. But then she realizes something that maybe it'll work around. She doesn't have to claim she already has a PhD. On her resume, she could say she's working on a graduate degree. A degree in progress is harder to verify. So DuConn begins working on her application, writing on her resume that she's pursuing a master's. And while lying is not the right thing to do, DuConn believes that she deserves this job. She's put in too much hard work, too many nights and weekends. She's done being passed over and ignored, and tired of being treated like she's invisible. So she'll do whatever it takes to get a promotion and to show the world that she's someone important and someone who cannot be ignored. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion? Or you woke up in the morgue? Or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening, brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening. It's available ad free only with Wondry Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y Podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together. And we'd love for you to join us. Generation Y is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there. And we are still at it, unraveling a new case every week. We break down infamous cases like the Evil Genius Bank robbery, and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico. Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y Podcasts on Amazon Music or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. It's November 2003 in Boston. Inside the William A. Hinton State Laboratory, Annie Ducan walks down a wide hallway, peering into open doors. In one room, chemists are hunched over glass slides as they carefully dribble liquid onto a collection of samples. They seem to be looking at crushed pills or some kind of illegal drug like cocaine. For Ducan, it doesn't get more exciting than this, using chemistry to work through a series of mysteries like a police detective. Ducan can't believe her luck. After applying to work at this state lab, she was offered a job and landed a position with a lot of potential for growth. She did have to fudge her resume a bit, but no one asked her about her supposed graduate degree in progress. So today, Ducan is about to begin her first day on the job. It starts with an orientation, ordinary stuff, but she hopes she can make a good impression from the start. Ducan composes herself as she steps into a lab station with her new supervisor, Charles Salamy. He strikes Ducan as friendly and laid back. And as the orientation begins, Salamy explains that he likes to be hands off as a manager. His chemists are talented and he wants people to feel comfortable working independently. For Ducan, that's good news. It'd give her a chance to chart her own course proving herself as a valuable employee. And with any luck, she'll quickly rise through the ranks. As Salamy leads Ducan through the lab, he outlines how things work. First, law enforcement sends in drug samples for analysis. The chemist at the lab began with a first round of diagnostics, like a color test. Certain chemicals are added to a sample, turning at different colors, depending on the type of drug. It's the first step in figuring out what you're looking at. Salamy goes on, explaining that this kind of test only reveals the general class of drug, like an opioid or an amphetamine. So after the first round, the lab runs the sample through a second test. Using more advanced equipment, the staff chemists break down the samples into their molecular constituents to confirm the exact drug. There's a pause in the explanation. Ducan jumps in with a suggestion, eager to prove that she already has plenty of ideas to contribute. She explains that from what she's heard, police generally already know what drug they're seizing during a raid. So if police suspect the sample was heroin, the lab could jump straight to the second test. It would save time and be more efficient. Ducan's supervisor nods, and he sees the point. But the drug samples are criminal evidence, and the test results can decide whether someone gets jail time or goes free. That means they have to be methodical and follow all testing protocols, even if they seem cumbersome. Ducan feels embarrassed for having made the suggestion. Her new boss might even think she's the kind of employee who cuts corners. But then Salamy smiles at her and says he's glad to hear she's focused on efficiency, because the fact is the lab has a growing backlog of work, and the problem is only getting worse. It seems like every police captain embossed and is focused on nailing drug dealers. But Salamy says there's a consequence for this relentless focus on drug busts. All the confiscated drugs end up in labs and need to be tested in order to prosecute the alleged criminals. And at this point, their lab is several thousand samples behind. They're drowning in work with no end in sight. Ducan's eyes go wide as she confronts the scope with the problem. But then she realizes that this is also an opportunity, another chance to impress. So Ducan says she's not afraid to work weekends. If the lab needs to get the backlog down, she'll do whatever it takes. Salamy chuckles, saying he doubts she can make a real dent in the work. No one has, but Ducan insists that she can, and she will. Three years later, Annie Ducan steps into work at the Hinton State Lab in Boston. As she begins making her way to her lab station, Ducan's colleagues suddenly stop what they're doing and stare. By now, Ducan is used to being looked at. After three years working at the lab, she's become something of a superstar, testing far more samples each year than any other chemist on staff. But today, she isn't getting any looks of admiration. Instead, her co workers are all shooting her a look of pity. Ducan makes her way to her desk and collapses onto the bench. More than anything she needs a distraction, something to keep her mind far away from everything going on in her personal life. Several months ago, Ducan learned that she was pregnant. She'd always wanted children, and when she got the news, she and her husband were over the moon. But then everything fell apart. Last week, Ducan suffered a miscarriage. She was devastated. No matter what anyone said or did, it seemed like nothing could make the pain and loss go away. So at this point, all she can hope for is distraction. That's why Ducan has already come back to work. Keeping herself busy seemed like the only way to lift her spirits to somehow move on with life. It's distraction that she needs. She hopes her colleagues won't try to start an uncomfortable conversation. At her lab station, Ducan begins arranging her bottles of chemicals. She pulls the dust cover off her microscope and gets ready to start. But before she can, she hears a quiet knock on the door. She turns and Ducan finds a woman with an all burn hair standing in her doorway. Julie Nasef is the lab's head supervisor. She asks Ducan if she has time to chat. Ducan doesn't really want to. But Nasef is her superior, so she agrees. As Nasef takes a seat, her hands start to fidget. And then she blurt out saying she's sorry about Ducan's loss. She can't imagine what it's like to go through something like that. Ducan can feel tears welling up. But she's also angry. She doesn't need any more reminders about her miscarriage. She just wants to work. But Nasef doesn't seem to understand that. She all but begs Ducan to take time off, to process and heal. Ducan wants to shout, to force Nasef out, so she can get back to work. But Ducan knows she has to maintain a professional attitude. So she tries to sound lighthearted, telling Nasef that she has work, and she has chocolate. And that's her way of dealing with everything. Nasef looks skeptical. But Ducan insists that she'll be okay. And in any case, the backlog of samples isn't getting any smaller. That gets Nasef's attention. Because even if she wants to play the role of carrying boss, she and everyone else knows the truth. Ducan is almost single handedly keeping the lab from drowning in drug samples. It's in management's self interest to keep Ducan at work. That seems to do the trick. Nasef rises and pats Ducan on the shoulder. She says she'll leave Ducan alone. But she's around, Ducan wants to talk. As Nasef walks out, Ducan feels a wave of relief. She doesn't need anyone's sympathy. And she doesn't need to talk. All she needs is her work. A good distraction. Ducan adjusts her microscope and gets to it. The feeling is almost immediate. She starts to relax, and her mind grows focused. She logs five drug samples, and ten. And every time she finishes another task, her pain grows a little more distant. Her sense of loss weaker. It's almost a form of therapy, testing one sample after the other, plowing through an endless backlog of work. But Ducan is making progress. She feels purposeful. She's driven. And if she keeps it up, relentlessly working, knocking down one sample after the other, maybe her pain will go away. And she can get back to living her life. It's 2008, two years later. On a Saturday morning, chemist Peter Piro trudges up the stairwell in the Hinton Drug Lab. He sighs as he opens the lab door and breathes in the familiar smell of formaldehyde. Piro has been working in the lab since 1991. But in his 17 years here, he's never experienced such intense pressure to get through the backlog of drug samples. And while Piro hates working on weekends, after several recent big drug arrests, there's just too much work. He has to come in and work after hours. So Piro heads to his desk, ready to put in another full day. But as he walks through the lab, he hears someone else working. When he turns the corner, he spots Annie Ducan at her lab bench, her long black hair flowing down her back. Piro frowns as he watches Ducan work. He doesn't mind her as a person. She's pleasant and she works hard. But he doesn't quite trust her. She's become the star chemist in the lab, producing almost twice as many results as any other chemist. It's an enormous margin, and the sheer volume of her work seems almost impossible. What's stranger, Ducan is hitting these high numbers even though she's a new mother. After suffering a miscarriage, Ducan gave birth to a child. But her son has a disability and needs extra care. Still, somehow, Ducan's testing numbers keep rising. Just doesn't make sense. Piro takes a seat at his desk and greets Ducan. He doesn't have concrete proof of any wrongdoing, of course. But today he's going to watch her, so see if he notices anything amiss. Piro is working at his desk. When he catches something out of the corner of his eye, makes him sit straight up. Annie, aren't you forgetting something? I'm sorry, Peter, what? Look, you have to calibrate your scale before you weigh the samples. Ducan crosses her arms. I didn't realize you were watching me work. It wasn't. I just happened to look over. And you thought you needed to tell me how to do my job? No, Annie, it's official policy to calibrate the scale. Well, thank you, but I know what I'm doing. You seem to, but if you didn't calibrate the scale before you weighed those samples, it's going to throw everything off. Peter, please, it's an extra step. It's our job to get through samples as fast as possible, and you and I both know the scales are hardly ever off. But sometimes they are. If you're off by even a hundredth of the gram, that can make the difference of several years and jailed for someone. You're worrying too much, Peter. And I'm going to get back to work. Peter can feel his patience growing thin. He didn't want to be here on a Saturday and now Ducan is arguing over a basic step, one that's necessary for due process under the law. It's a serious lapse in ethics. So, Peter gets up and grabs a set of calibration weights. Then he marches over and drops them on Ducan's desk. Annie, here, please follow the rules. Calibrate your scale. Ducan glairs at him, but then she takes the weights and adjusts her scale. In the coming hours, Piro tries to get back to work to focus on the growing number of drug samples that need his attention. But again and again, he finds himself sneaking looks at Ducan, watching what she's doing. Because while Ducan may be the last newest star, with her supervisor gloting about her production, her attitude is obviously cavalier. And one day, that could cause a problem. It's the summer of 2009 in Boston. Annie Ducan walks up the front steps of a courthouse, wearing a pressed white shirt and black slacks. As she steps into a courtroom, she sees that a drug case is about to wrap up. And that means her case is probably coming up next. Ducan takes a seat near the front of the room, ready to get this over with. But if all her other court appearances or any indication, this could take a while. Until recently, Ducan didn't have to deal with any of this. She wasn't spending her mornings in court, but everything changed a few months ago when the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling that upended life at the lab. In the days before the ruling, chemists like Ducan could just perform their work and then submit a signed certificate that prosecutors could use as evidence in court cases. The certificate would describe the tests they'd run on suspected drugs and what the results were. But the Supreme Court decided that certificates weren't good enough. According to the justices, lawyers defending alleged criminals can now force chemists like Ducan to testify on the stand instead of just submitting a written certificate. This poses a serious problem for Annie Ducan. She tests more drug samples than any chemist in her lab. She's even earned a nickname. People call her a superwoman, and her advisors continue to fallen over her. But with the Supreme Court's decision, she now has to testify in person much more often. And it's meant sitting around a courthouse for hours every week. It's not only a waste of time. It's cutting into her numbers. So today, as she sits in the courtroom waiting to be called to the stand, Ducan feels antsy. She needs to get back to the lab where she has a mountain of work waiting for her. The judge bangs his gavill, ending the current case. And Ducan gets ready to take the stand. But then the judge calls an unrelated case, and Ducan grows exasperated. She can't take this any longer. Ducan rises from her seat and sneaks over to a clerk in the corner. Excuse me, my name's Annie Ducan. I'm sorry to bother you. I was supposed to testify at 9 o clock. Okay? So, well, it's past 9.30. Miss Ducan, you'll have to wait your turn. I realize that, but do you know when my case will be called? No, it's out of my control. How long it might be? Miss Ducan, it could be soon. It could be this afternoon. The case has run long. But I can't sit around waiting all day. I need to get back to work. Well, are you supposed to testify? I'm supposed to. Then you need to stay put. Wait your turn. It's just how it goes. Ducan wants to argue with a clerk. Remind him that these court appearances are causing a serious problem. Her numbers are taking a big hit. Everyone in her lab knows that she's single handedly keeping the backlog at bay. If she doesn't get to work, these criminal court cases won't happen at all. But she says nothing. Ducan knows that the clerk can't change things, and these court cases aren't going away. Somehow she'll have to find another way to keep her numbers up, and to remain the superwoman of the drug lab. It's late evening at the Hinton Drug Lab a few weeks later. By now, almost all of the staff have gone home, but Annie Ducan is still at her lab bench testing drug samples. Ducan doesn't want to be at work right now. She should be at home with her husband and son, but that's not an option. There's been another big drug bust, and Boston's chief of police has demanded the lab results tomorrow. As the lab star chemist, Ducan was assigned to test the samples. Being entrusted with such an enormous task should be a source of pride for Ducan. But as she stares at all the samples in front of her, she knows it's going to be a herculean effort, one that wasn't made any easier by the fact that she was stuck testifying in court all day. Ducan starts by weighing the drugs, which are all wrapped up in small tinfoil twists. She jots down numbers as fast as she can. Ducan prepares a small beaker containing a solution of sulfuric acid and formaldehyde. Ducan unwraps the first tinfoil twist and scoops out a tiny bit of white powder. She places it on a glass slide and using a medicine dropper, Ducan carefully dribbles the prepared solution onto the powder. For a moment, she waits. Then she sees the chemical reaction take place, as the mix turns deep purple. That means it's an opioid just as she expected. Ducan tosses the slide into her discard bin and opens the next piece of tinfoil. She runs the color test again and gets the same result, a deep purple. Ducan grabs yet another slide and repeats the process. Again, she gets purple, which is no surprise. The suspect was a known heroin kingpin. Ducan would bet her life savings at every one of these samples as heroin. She doesn't have a single doubt. If only she could write that down noting each sample as heroin. She could be done with it and go home to her family. But what should be a fleeting wish turns into a dangerous thought? Why doesn't she just write that down? Make a note that all samples are heroin. Ducan laughs dismissing the idea, making such a claim without running any chemical tests is called drylabbing and it's illegal, not to mention unethical. But on the other hand, Ducan begins to wonder what would happen if she faked the results. The drug kingpin will probably go to jail no matter what. It's not like she'll be hurting anyone innocent. Ducan shakes her head, refusing to entertain the idea any further. She can't do it. She's the superwoman of the lab. She would never resort to drylabbing. But a moment later, her cell phone buzzes. It's a text from her husband asking whether she'll be home in time to put their son to bed. If not, he'll do it, alone, again. Ducan feels a stab of guilt. She's tried to have it all. To be the most respected chemist of her lab while still managing to raise a child. It pains her to think she's failing as a mother and a wife. Deep down, Ducan knows that something has to give. She can't do everything perfectly. She looks down at several twists of tinfoil and begins to unwrap them. All the powder looks exactly the same. It's unmistakable. It has to be heroin. Ducan's heart begins to raise. She rises from her bench, peeks outside the door of her lab station. She holds her breath, listening. There's no one else here. Ducan shuts the door and returns to her lab bench. Without allowing herself to dwell on it too long, Ducan takes the official form and starts jotting down fake results. Line after line, one falls result after another. And before she can stop herself, she grabs the form, walks down the hall to the machine testing room, and slips the sheet under the door. Her work's done. Soon, Ducan hurries to grab her belongings as if fleeing from a crime scene. And in a way, she knows she is. Ducan has just falsified criminal evidence. If she's caught, she'll lose her job immediately. And she could face charges. But Ducan forces all those thoughts out of her mind. She's not going to get caught. And in any case, it was just a one time thing, a shortcut that led to the same results, allowing her to get out of work before the night got too late. Still, as Ducan steps outside and walks to her car, she's hit with another darker thought. The endless demand for drug testing isn't going away any time soon. More drugs will continue to pour into the lab week after week, drowning the staff in work. And that means there is only one solution. If Ducan wants to have it all, to keep her production high while still managing to raise a family, she may have to keep taking shortcuts, and start taking steps to make sure she doesn't get caught. From Wondry, this is episode one of Fraud in a Drug Lab from America's Camp. In our next episode, Annie Ducan embarks on a larger scheme. But when her colleagues grow suspicious, they start gathering evidence of their own, working to expose what appears to be a crime. If you like our show, please give us a five star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends. I also have two other podcasts you might like, American History Tellers and Business Movers. Follow on Apple podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now. Or you can listen to new episodes early and ad free by subscribing to Wondry Plus in Apple podcasts or in the Wondry app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support the show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Follow me at Lindsay A. Graham, Lindsay with an A, Middle and Initially. And thank you. If you'd like to learn more about Annie Ducan, we recommend the book The Ice Pick Surgeon by Sam Keane. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what we said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American scandalous hosted, edited, and executive produced by me, Lindsay Graham for airship. Audio editing by Molly Bond, Sound Design by Derek Barons, Music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Sam Keane, edited by Christina Mallsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven. Executive producers are Stephanie Jens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marsha Lewey for Wondry.