A retrial date of Jan. 14 was set in federal court today for a former San Francisco police crime laboratory technician accused of obtaining cocaine by fraud.

Deborah Madden, 62, of San Mateo, is accused of acquiring cocaine from the laboratory’s narcotics analysis unit in 2009 by means of fraud, misrepresentation, deception, forgery or subterfuge.

Madden’s first trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ended Wednesday with a hung jury. Jurors said after being dismissed that they were split at various times during the deliberations by a 10-2 or 9-3 vote in favor of conviction.

During the first trial, defense attorney Paul DeMeester conceded that Madden took cocaine, but argued there was no proof of deception and said she just took “what’s in front of her when she works.”

The new date was set by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco at a status conference today. The hearing was originally scheduled for Oct. 12, but was moved to today, DeMeester said.

The defense attorney said jury selection is scheduled for Jan. 14 and opening statements and witness testimony will begin on Jan. 22, after the Martin Luther King holiday.

DeMeester said that on Madden’s behalf, he offered prosecutors a plea bargain in which she would plead guilty to a lesser charge of cocaine possession. But the federal prosecutors told him on Thursday that they declined the offer.

A conviction on the possession charge would have carried a maximum sentence of one year in prison, while the maximum for the fraud charge is four years.

In a separate case, Madden pleaded guilty in San Mateo County Superior Court in 2011 to possessing a small amount of cocaine found in her home in March 2010. She was sentenced to undergo drug counseling.

Madden went on leave from the lab in December 2009 to enter an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and retired permanently in March 2010.

Her pilfering of small amounts of cocaine in 2009 contributed to the San Francisco district attorney’s dismissal of hundreds of criminal cases that depended on evidence from the narcotics analysis unit.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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