DC Adviser Resigns Claiming MASSIVE Foul Play In DNA Lab Management Firings

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A member of the Scientific Advisory Board for D.C.’s Department of Forensic Science sent in his resignation letter Wednesday claiming that political pressure, not bad science, led to the shuttering of a DNA lab last month.

In the letter obtained by The DCNF, Jay Siegel called the recent firing of administration members at the lab “hasty and unwarranted,” and alleged scientific issues had little to do with it.

Max Houck, who had been the director of the lab since it opened three years ago was allowed to resign, though two other top officials, the chief scientist for the lab and the senior DNA testing manager, were fired.

Siegel told The DCNF he believes the closing of the lab and the firing of top management personnel was purely political, because Mayor Muriel Bowser and prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia couldn’t control what happened in the laboratory.

“There is little doubt in my mind that these firings were orchestrated by the U.S. Attorneys Office and the mayor,” he said.

The lab was forced to shut down in April after and audit ordered by the mayor found that the DFS did not comply with standard practices set forth by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At issue was the protocols the lab used when interpreting DNA data to determine matches, which Siegel told The DCNF were “quite esoteric and quite controversial.”

“It is well known in the forensic science community that there are no standards for the statistical interpretation of such mixtures,” Siegel wrote in his resignation letter. “The DNA unit of the DC Forensic Science Laboratory was using methods that represent a consensus among many forensic science DNA units nationwide.”

At around the same time as the mayor’s audit, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia launched its own audit and a panel within the office found the lab’s protocols to be inadequate.

Siegel said the D.C. laboratory requested the USAO to provide the protocols it wished for the lab to use multiple times, but the USAO refused.

During an April 24th meeting, the Science Advisory Board was preparing a formal letter to the USAO to request the protocol information when the results of the audit were released.

Within a few days of the audit’s release, the mayor fired most of the senior staff at the lab. The board was created to advise not just the DFS, but the mayor and city council about scientific matters, Siegel said, and the board didn’t even have a chance to look at the findings.

“The actions [Mayor Bowser], and I believe the USAO, have taken in this matter were clearly not based on scientific considerations since the Scientific Advisory Board had no chance to provide advice BEFORE you took such drastic actions,” Siegel wrote.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. said he has “no comment on personnel matters involving the District of Columbia government.”

Michael Czin, a spokesman for the mayor, simply thanked Siegel for his work with the advisory board.

“We thank Mr. Siegel for his work. Right now, DFS is working with a broad group of experts and stakeholders to ensure the processes and procedures at the lab meet the highest quality standards,” Czin said in an email.

Read the full letter here:

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