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Saturday, September 9, 2000

FBI tip prompts audit
of HPD serology lab

A Florida tech center will
probe recent allegations of
procedural impropriety

By Rod Ohira

A Florida-based organization will conduct an independent audit of the Honolulu Police Department's DNA Serology Unit amid recent allegations of procedural impropriety.

Acting on a recommendation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hawaii office, Chief Lee Donohue says his office contacted the National Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo, Fla.

"We are looking forward to the evaluation and to working with the auditors," Donohue said yesterday in a statement issued through spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

The audit will be conducted later this year, possibly in December.

In August, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rom Trader sent out letters to local defense attorneys advising them about a police internal investigation of the serology lab.

Donohue said Internal Affairs found no criminal wrongdoing by any Scientific Investigation Section employees.

Internal Affairs is still working on a separate administrative investigation, which is not connected to the audit.

Trader had no comment about the police investigations.

Prosecutors learned of the possible impropriety while preparing for the murder trial of Keith Muraskas, which was scheduled to begin this month but has been delayed.

The National Forensic Science Technology Center was established by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors in 1995 and began operating in July 1996.

It is an independent, not-for-profit organization.

The FBI's forensic science laboratory, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are represented on the center's board.

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