Thursday October 18, 2012

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts state prosecutor resigned Wednesday amid revelations that he corresponded with the chemist at the center of the scandal at the now-closed state drug lab, broadening the case's already significant fallout.

Norfolk Assistant District Attorney George Papachristos offered his resignation, and District Attorney Michael Morrissey accepted it. Morrissey said in a statement that Papachristos did not want to distract from the criminal investigation of chemist Annie Dookhan and the probe of what went wrong at the lab.

The Boston Globe reported earlier Wednesday that sometimes-personal phone calls and emails from Dookhan to Papachristos violated protocol and might give defense attorneys grounds to argue that even more drug cases were compromised and should be thrown out.

Dookhan, 34, of Franklin, is accused of skirting lab protocol and falsifying lab results.

The scandal has thrown the state's judicial system into a tailspin as defense attorneys challenge cases based on Dookhan's alleged misconduct. State police say Dookhan was involved in testing more than 60,000 samples covering 34,000 defendants during her nine years at the lab.

The Globe reported that investigators concluded Dookhan wasn't romantically involved with Papachristos, but that her husband was concerned enough to try to contact him.

Dookhan's attorney, Nicolas Gordon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. Papachristos also did not return a call seeking comment.