By Joseph Snook
Forensic Scientist Nika Larsen
Portland, OR - On December 12, 2016, former Oregon State Police Forensic Scientist Nika Larsen, 36, of Bend, Oregon was sentenced to three years in federal prison for obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud and deception. Also accused of tampering with seized drugs, Larsen's actions prompted investigators across the state to re-evaluate more than 2,500 cases, leading to the dismissal of over 150 cases that were unjustly affected by Larsen.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown, Larsen didn't directly mention the innocent lives of those who were wrongfully charged or convicted because of her actions. Her letter read in part, "I allowed my addiction to cloud my judgment... I had no idea, at the time, how insidious my actions were and how deeply they would affect those involved. Most of all, I have let down my loving family..."
A family member of an innocent person who was affected by Larsen stated, "Where is her apology to my family? She wouldn't even directly address the innocent lives she helped ruin in her letter."
According to other reports, Deschutes Co. District Attorney John Hummel stated he's reviewed 261 of 1,039 cases involving Larsen. Of the 261, Hummel recommended that 17 convictions be overturned. In other counties, convictions have already been vacated. The total number of cases that have been vacated or dismissed thus far is approaching 200 in total.
At Larsen's sentencing, Judge Brown stated, "You're never going to work in a criminal justice system again."
After serving her sentence, Larsen is ordered to serve one additional year under a supervised release agreement, along with 250 community service hours.
In a press release from Oregon's Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams stated, “An effective criminal justice system requires the highest level of personal integrity from everyone working within the system. If a single link in this chain is compromised, the equitable administration of justice is at risk.”
Larsen is expected to be released in early 2019.