San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris on Friday said her office had until recently been in the dark about problems in the city’s crime lab that the police department had known about. An evidence-tampering scandal that erupted in March and prompted the closing of the crime lab’s narcotics unit has prompted prosecutors to drop about 550 narcotics cases.

In particular, Harris said the DA’s office had not been aware that Deborah Madden, a former criminalist at the lab who frequently testified in drug cases and has been the central figure in the scandal so far, had a 2008 misdemeanor domestic violence conviction in San Mateo.

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