The Job Description
Forensic scientists may not be as sexy or as explosion-surrounded as TV has led us to believe, but their work is still pretty damn crucial to that whole "justice" thing we've got going. As a 24-year veteran of an NYPD forensics lab, Mariem Megalla was responsible for conducting the sorts of tests that help police find dangerous criminals and keep innocent men out of jail ... as long as those tests didn't involve walking too much, that is.
Megalla's extreme slacking caused an all-out nightmare in New York's legal system in May 2010, when thousands of court cases were thrown into question after an NYPD internal affairs investigation discovered that Megalla often came into work with a distinct "not in the mood for doing science-y things'' attitude. More specifically, she was caught switching the labels of suspected drug samples just to better suit her needs -- her needs being "not having to walk all the way over there."
"Yep he's dead. Case closed."
In one case, she was caught labeling as positive a crack pipe that had tested negative for drug residue, "because she allegedly didn't want to walk to another part of the building and fill out paperwork to have it tested further."
Turns out this was a legitimate household crack pipe.
Megalla's work also involved appearing in court and testifying in front of a judge, a part of the job she reportedly was fine with, since it could be performed while sitting. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne stated that "Right now, it looks a lot like either sloppiness or laziness." The NYPD is still waiting on the lab results to find out which one it was for sure.
As a result of the ensuing shitstorm, every forensics case that Megalla has ever been involved in has to be reviewed, all the way back to 1986. That's thousands of ongoing cases and prior convictions that could be overturned, all because of one woman's laziness.
"I'm only here to look good and deliver one-liners. Clipboard? No idea."
The Job Description
As operator of the Tri-State Crematory in Noble, Ga., from 1996 to 2001, Ray Brent Marsh was there to honor the wishes of those who wanted to skip that pesky postmortem decomposition process and go straight to the "ashes to ashes" part, reliably carrying out his cremation duties and providing journey vessels for the remains of loved ones passed.
Turns out that, in Marsh's words, the cremation oven was "broken" -- meaning that, for five years, Marsh saw no other viable option besides dumping the bodies he was supposed to be cremating in various locations in the crematory's backyard. Oh, and what did Marsh put in the urns that went out to the families? Concrete dust.
When a propane delivery truck driver happened to notice the unusual number of decidedly noncremated bodies lying around the property, he alerted the authorities (with his horrified screams, we're guessing), and the jig was up. A total of 339 corpses were discovered in the crematory's backyard, 100 of which were never identified because of their advanced states of decomposition. Hundreds of grieving families lost their loved ones all over again.
During the ensuing trial, Marsh offered no other explanation for his negligence, presumably standing by his original excuse of the cremation oven being "broken." The only problem? Someone actually tested the oven and found it to be largely in working order. Not to mention that, even if it had been completely broken, he could have just called someone to fix it. You'd think that within those five years of smashing concrete and not cremating people, he would have had a spare moment to sit down and pick up the phone.
"No ... that's also broken."
Marsh was charged with a grand total of 787 criminal counts, including theft by deception, burial-service-related fraud, giving false statements and last but not least, abusing a corpse. All charges tallied, Ray Brent Marsh stood before the judge facing a well-deserved 8,000 years in prison, although he got off with a slightly lighter sentence of 12.
Which was served by a brick in a classic case of bait-and-switch.
The Job Description
As state employees of the Office of General Services, Louis Marciano and Gary Pivoda were supposed to provide on-site maintenance and janitorial services in the Empire State Plaza garage in Albany, New York. The OGS website explains that the agency has "developed expertise in centralizing critical support and service functions leading to more cost-effective government," which says absolutely nothing to us. Apparently, Marciano and Pivoda themselves weren't too clear on what the hell it was they were supposed to do, because we're guessing their official job description didn't mention drugs, board games or a secret underground lair.
Every day from 2004 to 2009, Pivoda and Marciano would show up for work and immediately descend into the secret "man cave" they had fashioned for themselves in a tucked-away maintenance room within the garage facility. That was the easy part. The hard part was deciding what to do next: Light up a joint ...
... watch Office Space for the umpteenth time or play some Yahtzee. Yep, besides stacking the place with drugs, junk food, a TV and a DVD player, Pivoda and Marciano also made sure to keep plenty of board games -- you know, as a way to keep themselves occupied. Needless to say, all this excitement usually left them pretty spent.
Ninety percent of the security tape looks like this.
The closest thing to actual work they ever did was when Pivoda hopped into their state-provided car to deliver drugs to other state employees. Investigators found a scale for weighing marijuana inside their secret room, which authorities dubbed "the man cave" because apparently they have a horrible opinion of the entire gender. Once they were exposed, Pivoda was sentenced to one year in prison and Marciano to five years' probation plus 250 hours of community service.
"Totally worth it."
And give your boss the best gift: our book.
And stop by Linkstorm because you don't actually have to do your job until about 3 p.m.
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