• EXCLUSIVE: DC Crime Lab Hired Girlfriend Of US Attorney To Run DNA Unit

    The District of Columbia’s independent forensics lab hired the girlfriend of the assistant U.S. attorney who handles DNA and forensics litigation in the city to run its DNA unit.

    The Daily Caller News Foundation learned Friday that D.C.’s Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) has hired Andrea Borchardt-Gardner as manager of its DNA unit, after firing all of its top staff earlier this summer.

    Borchardt-Gardner is also actively engaged in a romantic relationship with Michael Ambrosino, the top lawyer in charge of prosecuting DNA and forensics cases in the district, according to court documents obtained by TheDCNF.

    LaShon Beamon, a spokeswoman for the DFS, told TheDCNF Borchardt-Gardner was chosen after a nationwide search, and that the best candidate just happened to work at Bode Technology Group, a DNA lab located just outside the district, in Lorton, Va.

    DFS also hired a new technial leader for the lab, Susan Welti.

    “These two applicants were highly qualified,” Beamon said. “The most qualified.”

    According to Beamon, the positions were posted for 45 days and advertisements were placed in several trade publications. Together, the jobs garnered 10 highly qualified candidates.

    All candidates for positions within the D.C. government go through the same unbiased scoring process, Beamon said, and Borchardt-Gardner scored higher than any other candidate in that process.

    “Each of our candidates go through this process, so it’s not as if preferential treatment was given to one person or another,” she said.

    The DFS was aware of the romantic relationship between Borchardt-Gardner and Ambrosino prior to her hire.

    Beamon said every new hire falls under the same regulations and guidelines from the ethics board, and Borchardt-Gardner passed an ethical review conducted by the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR). TheDCNF reached out to a spokeswoman for DCHR to confirm this, but request for comment was not immediately returned.

    In October of 2014, Ambrosino expressed concerns about protocols used in the D.C. DNA lab to interperet complex DNA mixtures. Then in January, he stopped sending cases handled by the USAO to the lab, and, instead, sent them to Bode.

    At the time, Borchardt-Gardner was a supervisor of forensic casework at the lab.

    The relationship between Ambrosino and Borchardt-Gardner began in the spring of 2014, Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office previously told TheDCNF. The relationship, though, had “no bearing whatsoever” on the decision by the USAO to send casework to Bode, he said.

    Miller did not immediately respond to comment for this story.

    After the U.S. Attorney’s Office stopped sending cases to the city’s lab, the U.S. Attorney’s Office commissioned an audit, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned a separate audit by a national accreditation board, to provide reviews of work produced in the lab.

    Those audits found the city’s lab to be deficient in its processes and not in compliance with standards set forth by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bowser later shuttered the lab and cleaned house, firing all of its top management staff.

    In May, a member of the board that oversees the lab resigned after claiming political pressure, not bad science, forced it to close. In a letter to Bowser, board member Jay Siegel said the firing of lab management was “hasty and unwarranted,” and claimed the decision had little to do with science.

    “The actions [Bowser], and I believe the [U.S. Attorney’s Office], have taken in this matter were clearly not based on scientific considerations since the Scientific Advisory Board had no chance to provide advice BEFORE you took such drastic actions,” Siegel wrote.

    According to the DFS website, several of the top positions are still filled with interim staff members.

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