U.S. Department of Justice

Office of the Inspector General


Special Tribute to the FBI Laboratory Investigation Team

On April 15, 1997, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) completed a 1-year investigation into allegations of wrongdoing and improper practices within certain sections of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory. This lengthy and complex investigation involved allegations concerning some of the most significant prosecutions at the Department of Justice (Department). The OIG investigation identified serious problems and deficiencies in the Laboratory, including scientifically flawed and inaccurate testimony, improper preparation of Laboratory reports, insufficient documentation of test results, and various management failures. To enhance quality in the Laboratory, the OIG made numerous remedial recommendations, which the FBI has stated it will implement.

This semiannual report pays special tribute to the dedicated and talented efforts of the team that conducted this important investigation. Leading the team were four Department attorneys detailed to the OIG: Barry Elden, an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and the Chief of Appeals in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois; Scott Bales, an AUSA in the District of Arizona; Lawrence Lincoln, an AUSA in the Western District of Washington; and Nicole Cubbage, a prosecutor in the Fraud Section of the Department's Criminal Division. Several OIG personnel worked on the team, including Inspector Alison Murphy and Special Agents Robert Mellado, Kimberly Thomas, and Joseph Lestrange.

In addition, the team included five internationally renowned forensic scientists who played an integral role in every phase of the OIG review and brought a level of experience and sophistication that contributed immeasurably to the investigation. The five scientists were Nicholas Cartwright, the Officer in Charge of the Science & Technology Branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Manager of the Canadian Police Research Center; Paul Ferrara, the Director of the Division for Forensic Science for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Douglas Lucas, the retired Director of the Centre of Forensic Sciences of the Province of Ontario, Canada, and the past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences; Gerard Murray, a Principal Scientific Officer of the Forensic Science Agency of Northern Ireland and one of the world's leading authorities on the analysis of explosive residues; and Richard Schwoebel, the retired Director of the Surety Assessment Center in the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The dedication, judgment, and tenacity of all the team members in conducting this critically important review deserve the highest praise. The OIG is extremely grateful for their outstanding work.