sfpd_cityhall.jpgSan Francisco police Chief George Gascon said tonight he hopes the criminal investigation into a former Police Department crime lab employee suspected of stealing drugs from the lab will conclude early next week.

Gascon, speaking before the San Francisco Police Commission, said prosecutors from the California Department of Justice and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office are weighing whether to prosecute Deborah Madden, the former criminalist at the center of the recent drug lab scandal.

Madden, 60, of San Mateo, allegedly stole small amounts of cocaine from evidence late last year, prompting an investigation that has forced San Francisco prosecutors to drop hundreds of drug cases.

Madden, a civilian employee, went on leave from the department in December and officially retired March 1.

According to police, she admitted to taking cocaine about five times from evidence she was testing at the lab between October and December 2009, but she insisted she only removed small amounts that spilled during the process.

San Francisco police concluded their criminal investigation into the lab several weeks ago, Gascon said tonight.

He said lab results of evidence that could be used to charge Madden are still not in, but they are expected to be available by the beginning of next week.

Gascon said the Justice Department has been working with San Mateo County prosecutors to determine which office, if any, should prosecute Madden.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris announced in late April that her office would not be handling the Madden investigation because members of her office would be called to testify. She said she did not want to impede the prosecution or create any advantage for the defense.

Madden is already being prosecuted in San Mateo County on a separate cocaine possession charge related to a search warrant served at her home on March 3.

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