Madden charges will go to state prosecutors 

District Attorney Kamala Harris said Friday she is passing any charging decision involving San Francisco Police Department lab technician Deborah Madden off to state prosecutors.

Madden has admitted to stealing trace amounts of cocaine from evidence samples but has yet to be charged in connection to the alleged tampering.

The move is meant to avoid any conflict of interest between the District Attorney's Office and Madden, who has testified for local prosecutors in hundreds of drug trials. Several employees of the District Attorney's Office are also expected to testify in any future trial.

The announcement came at a press conference in which Harris deflected questions about when she was briefed about "disturbing" problems with Madden calling in sick when she was supposed to testify in drug cases.

When asked if Harris was apprised of those concerns by her second-in-command Russ Giuntini, Harris said she could not comment because it was a "personnel matter."

On Friday, Harris also called for a narcotics testing lab independent of the police department. Police Chief George Gascon has already asked the city controller to analyze the costs of getting a lab, independent or not, back on track.

Harris, who is running for state attorney general, also called for legislation that would make it a felony for an employee to tamper with evidence.

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