Criminal freed over Mass. lab scandal is fugitive
by Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer
October 04, 2012 02:00 PM | 715 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This undated booking photo provided by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston shows Marcus Pixley, whose bail on drug charges was reduced because of allegations of mishandling of drug samples by a Massachusetts chemist. Pixley failed to show up for a previously scheduled court hearing Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, and is now a fugitive. (AP Photo/Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office)
This undated booking photo provided by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston shows Marcus Pixley, whose bail on drug charges was reduced because of allegations of mishandling of drug samples by a Massachusetts chemist. Pixley failed to show up for a previously scheduled court hearing Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, and is now a fugitive. (AP Photo/Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office)
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BOSTON (AP) — A career criminal whose bail was reduced after a chemist was accused of mishandling drug samples at a state lab failed to show up for a court date and is now a fugitive, authorities said Thursday.

Marcus Pixley was awaiting trial in a 2011 arrest on charges of possession and distribution of crack cocaine when his lawyer successfully argued this month that his bail should be lowered because the drugs in his case were tested by Annie Dookhan, a chemist charged with obstruction of justice and accused of faking test results, skipping protocols and mixing drug samples at a now-closed state lab.

The scandal has potentially put thousands of drug cases in jeopardy.

Pixley was released after posting the lower, $1,000 bail, but he failed to show up for a scheduled court hearing Wednesday. A Suffolk Superior Court judge issued a warrant for his arrest Thursday.

Pixley, 52, has a criminal record dating to 1977, including rape, armed robbery, assault and battery and larceny. He also has eight prior drug convictions.

Prosecutors argued against Pixley’s bail reduction, arguing that he was being prosecuted as a habitual offender.

Pixley’s lawyer, Veronica White, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Pixley was arrested in February 2011 after police say he sold a plainclothes Boston officer two bags of crack co-caine.

When additional officers moved in to arrest him, he struggled with them and swallowed a third bag of crack, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley. A fourth bag was recovered from the snow near the struggle, Wark said.

Wark said that because Pixley has three prior convictions for resisting arrest, he was charged as a habitual of-fender and faces a mandatory 2 ½-year sentence if convicted.

Suffolk prosecutors have agreed to reduce bail for some defendants who have challenged the charges based on the allegations against Dookhan but not in the case of career criminals or defendants facing gun charges.

Dookhan, 34, of Franklin, has pleaded not guilty. The burgeoning investigation into her conduct prompted the shutdown of the lab in August and led to the resignation of the state’s public health commissioner. Since the lab closed, more than 20 defendants have had their bail reduced and their sentences put on hold and have been released while their attorneys challenge the charges against them based on Dookhan’s conduct.

State police, who took over operation of the lab from the Department of Public Health on July 1, have said Dook-han tested more than 60,000 samples covering 34,000 defendants during her nine years at the lab.

State officials said they have identified more than 1,100 defendants serving time in county jails or state prisons based on samples tested by Dookhan. It is unclear how many samples might have been tainted.

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