Thousands of New Jersey criminal cases could potentially be called into question after a lab technician with the NJ State Police admitted to faking results in a drug case.
Kamalkant Shah is a lab tech who worked for the NJ State Police North Regional Lab Drug Unit, which has a laboratory located in Little Falls, NJ. He allegedly “dry labbed” a substance believed to be marijuana.
When officials first began to suspect Shah of the deception on December 10, 2015, NJ authorities opened an investigation. Additionally, Shah was immediately removed from lab work with the police. After investigators uncovered significant evidence in the case, Shah was suspended without pay on January 12, 2016.
On February 22, Ellie Honig, the director of the NJ Division of Criminal Justice, sent a detailed letter to various county prosecutors’ offices. In the letter, Honig informed prosecutors that Shah had “failed to appropriately conduct laboratory analyses in a drug case.” Honig also advised local prosecutors to be sure to disclose this information to defense attorneys in their current drug cases.
Additionally, Honig said that Shah was caught “recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis.” The short amount of time that Shah spent on the marijuana sample in that case is what raised the suspicions of authorities.
The allegations against Shah were also detailed in a memo sent by NJ Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon to NJ Public Defender Joseph Krakora on February 29. Basically, Shah has been accused of completely making up data in the marijuana possession case. According to Deputy Public Defender Fallon in the memo, Shah “was observed writing ‘test results’ for suspected marijuana that was never tested.”
The memo was released to the public on March 2 via the New Jersey Municipal Court Law Update Service’s official website.
As a result of Shah’s deception, it is possible that the criminal convictions in the cases he worked on could be overturned. Shaw reportedly worked on 7,827 criminal cases during his time with the police, which began in 2005. Despite the fact that investigators found just one instance of misconduct by Shah, it is possible that the evidence in all of the criminal cases could be contaminated. Many of the cases come from Morris County, Bergen County, Essex County, and Passaic County. In Passaic County, the number of tainted cases could exceed 2,100.
Although NJ prosecutors believe that Shah committed the deception while employed as a lab technician with the New Jersey State Police, he has not yet been charged with any crimes. State officials said that Shah recently submitted his retirement papers.
At this time, the New Jersey State Police is working with local prosecutors in Morris County and elsewhere to figure out the next step in any pending drug cases that Shah may have been involved with.
For additional information about this developing case, read the NJ.com article, “Lab Tech Allegedly Faked Result in Drug Case; 7,827 Criminal Cases Now in Question.”