The Case of Mariem Megalla

Mariem Megalla is a 24-year veteran forensic technician with the New York Police Department. She was suspended from her job last year when she was caught falsifying drug test results at the NYPD’s crime lab in Jamaica, Queens. Because of this, thousands of court cases were thrown into question, prompting Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to call a meeting with representatives of the five district attorneys at the office of NYC’s special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan.

Given the length of her tenure at the NYPD, it was reported that potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of cases would have to be reviewed. In one example, Megalla was accused of labeling a crack pipe positive for cocaine when it actually tested negative because she didn’t want to walk to another building to fill out the required paperwork. Megalla’s slacking on the job led to a probe by the both the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

One year later, a lot of questions remain unanswered about this case. It’s not even clear whether Mariem Megalla is back on the job or not. I contacted the NYPD’s Public Affairs Office and was told to email my questions to them. No response. I contacted the Queens District Attorney’s office and spoke to Helen Peterson who declined to talk about their investigation of the case. I then talked to several reporters who had covered the story and most everyone seemed like they were in the dark about current news of it. Although one reporter told me that he thought Megalla is back on duty full-time.

The public has a right to know the outcome of this investigation. There’s a possibility that thousands of people’s lives were adversely affected by Megalla’s actions, and the absence of any real information after an entire year is suspicious, at best. Especially when you consider the very different outcome of a similar case in nearby Nassau:

Recently, it was pointed out that 3,000 convictions were in question due to possible tainted evidence in the Nassau County crime lab. After a flurry of press coverage, District Attorney Kathleen Rice responded to the discovery in the same way the NYPD did in the Magella case – by making a public announcement of a meeting with top-level officials to deal with the issue. But that’s where the similarity stops. In the Nassau County crime lab case, Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly intervened and appointed State Inspector General Ellen Biben to lead an investigation, which led to the labs demise. In turn, Rice was compelled to send letters to hundreds of potential defendants which eventually led to many filing motions to overturn their convictions.

But in the Megalla case it seems to be totally the opposite. Recently, I was contacted by Diana Collins, whose son is in NY state prison serving an 8-year sentence for possession of less than 1 gram of crack. D’ Juan Collins was sentenced in 2008 and has been fighting his conviction ever since. He claims to be wrongfully convicted, and has been denied exculpatory evidence by the NYPD that would show Megalla’s mishandling of the drugs used to convict him. But far worse for him than his sentence is the fact that he is now in jeopardy of losing parental rights to his 4-year old son Isaiah, who is currently in foster care. My question is how many D’ Juan Collins’s have been denied evidence that could be used to challenge their convictions?

The NYPD needs to alert the public to the outcome of the Mariem Megalla case and assure that justice has been served.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15
Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom
and Communications
Specialist for Drug Policy
. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com


More articles by:

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring