Crime lab tech may finally be charged 

Weeks after completing their investigation, police are expected to decide soon whether to charge a crime-lab technician suspected of swiping drugs from samples.

Police Chief George Gascón told the Police Commission that the department completed its investigation into Deborah Madden weeks ago. However, the Police Department is waiting to charge Madden until the California Department of Justice decides whether it will pursue a criminal prosecution against her, and on what charges.

He said that decision is waiting on the results of "a couple of items that are being tested at outside labs."

The district attorney has been barred from prosecuting the case because some members of that office could be called to testify if it were to go forward.

Madden is suspected of stealing portions of the drugs she tested. Though she confessed to taking very small amounts, it’s not clear whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try the case.

Instead, the state Justice Department will handle the case, if it goes forward. Meanwhile, San Mateo County prosecutors are moving ahead with a separate case against Madden that involves a small bag of cocaine discovered at her house when it was raided by police last winter.

Gascón said he cannot present any results of the investigation to the Police Commission until a decision on whether to prosecute is made or it could compromise the case.

Furthermore, he said the internal investigation can only be shared in a closed session because it’s technically a personnel matter.

However, police Commissioner Jim Hammer said regardless of the personnel matter, he expected police to provide a public presentation on the outcome of the internal investigation when a prosecution decision is made.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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Katie Worth

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