It is possible that several thousand criminal convictions in NJ, including Passaic County, could be overturned after a lab tech with the New Jersey State Police admitted to faking evidence in a drug case.
Kamalkant Shah worked as a lab technician for the NJ State Police North Regional Lab Drug Unit in Little Falls NJ. He is accused him of dry labbing a substance initially believed to be marijuana.
Authorities first became aware of the deception on December 10, 2015. They opened an investigation into Shah and took him off lab work with the police. Roughly one month later, on January 12, 2016, New Jersey officials suspended Shah without pay.
On February 22, Ellie Honig, who serves as director of the NJ Division of Criminal Justice, sent a letter to New Jersey county prosecutors offices and told local prosecutors that Shah had failed to appropriately conduct laboratory analyses in a drug case. Honig indicated that Shah had been caught recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis.
Honig also told NJ prosecutors to be proactive and disclose this information to criminal defense attorneys in pending drug crime cases.
The very serious allegations against Shah were explained in another memo, which was sent by New Jersey Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon to NJ Public Defender Joseph Krakora on February 29. The memo makes it clear that law enforcement has accused Shah of completely making up data in the marijuana possession case. The NJ deputy public defender further indicated that Shah had been observed writing test results for suspected marijuana that was never tested.
On March 2, the New Jersey Municipal Court Law Update Service posted the memo on its official website.
Shah s deception is likely to have significant and far-reaching consequences. For example, the criminal convictions in every case that he worked on with the NJ State Police could potentially be thrown out. Since the beginning of his tenure with the police in 2005, Shaw worked as a lab technician on 7,827 criminal cases.
Investigators had found just one instance of misconduct by Shah, but it remains possible that the evidence in all of the criminal cases could be contaminated. The cases were tried in courts throughout New Jersey, including Passaic County, Bergen County, Essex County, and Morris County. In Passaic County alone, there are more than 2,100 potentially tainted cases.
New Jersey prosecutors had said that Shah, who recently submitted his retirement papers, might not be charged with any crimes.
At this time, the NJ State Police is in communication with Passaic County prosecutors as authorities try to figure out how to handle pending drug offense cases and drug cases that were already adjudicated.
For further information about this developing case, view the NJ.com article, Lab Tech Allegedly Faked Result in Drug Case; 7,827 Criminal Cases Now in Question.