NJ officials fear that thousands of criminal convictions throughout the state, including Bergen County, could be overturned after it was discovered that a lab technician with the NJ State Police fabricated crucial evidence in a drug case.
Kamalkant Shah served as a lab tech for the New Jersey State Police and evaluated evidence at the North Regional Lab Drug Unit located in Little Falls NJ. Shah has been accused of “dry labbing,” or faking data, on a substance that law enforcement thought might be marijuana.
New Jersey police became aware of the deception on December 10, 2015 and started an investigation into Shah. While the investigation was pending, Shah was removed from laboratory work. Approximately one month later, on January 12, 2016, Shah was suspended without pay.
On February 22, Ellie Honig, director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, sent a letter to county prosecutors’ offices and pointed to evidence showing that Shah was observed “recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis” in a drug crime case.
Moreover, Honig asked NJ prosecutors to make opposing counsel in open drug cases aware of the allegations.
On February 29, Judy Fallon, the NJ Deputy Public Defender, sent a separate memo to NJ Public Defender Joseph Krakora. The memo set forth the allegations against Shah and directly stated that Shah allegedly faked data in the marijuana possession case. The New Jersey deputy public defender also said that Shah had been seen “writing ‘test results’ for suspected marijuana that was never tested.”
On March 2, 2016, the NJ Municipal Court Law Update Service posted the official memo online.
The latest news about the allegations against Shah could have serious implications. For example, the criminal convictions in every case that Shah worked on as a lab technician could wind up being overturned. Since he started working with the police in 2005, Shaw served as a lab technician on 7,827 criminal cases. Although NJ investigators only uncovered a single instance of misconduct by Shah, all of the criminal cases he worked on could still be jeopardized. Those drug offense cases were adjudicated in courts across NJ, including Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, and Passaic County.
The NJ State Police is currently talking to Bergen County prosecutors about how to best handle any open drug cases in Bergen County.
To learn more about this developing situation, read the NJ.com article, “Lab Tech Allegedly Faked Result in Drug Case; 7,827 Criminal Cases Now in Question.”