OZARK, Ala. - The owner of a lab that conducts paternity tests and drug screenings for at least one Alabama county has been charged with falsifying the results of some of those tests, presenting authorities with a potential wave of consequences in family court cases.
The allegations against Brandy Murrah, 36, of Clopton, first surfaced on May 2, when Ozark police Chief Marlos Walker said his office received word that drug tests and paternity results were being altered by her lab. The Dothan Eagle reported that A&J Lab Collections did testing for the Dale County Department of Human Resources.
“At this stage in the investigation, warrants have been obtained for Mrs. Murrah’s arrest for forgery after evidence of drug screening reports that were provided to the Dale County Department of Human Resources by Murrah were found to be falsified,” Walker told the Eagle on May 10.
Murrah turned herself in at the Dale County Jail, where she was booked on two counts of forgery, AL.com reported. She has since been released on bond.
Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams told AL.com last week that the allegations against Murrah, if true, could mean parents were denied custody of their children based on false failed drug screenings.
“We’re messing around (with) people’s lives and their children,” Adams told the news site. “It just seems beyond irresponsible to the point of being callous about the consequences.”
Two women who say they lost custody of their children due to Murrah’s alleged actions filed a lawsuit Tuesday against her. Adam Jones, who represents Amy Farver and Tiffany Long, is seeking class action status for the complaint.
“This is maybe the most troubling case I’ve ever had,” Jones told WTVY in Dothan.
Jones told the news station that tests done by Murrah’s lab indicated both of his clients had methamphetamine in their systems, causing the Alabama Department of Human Resources to remove their children from their homes.
“Both of these ladies went to independent drug testing facilities and medical clinics and got more drug testing done, and all of it was negative,” Jones said.
The women have not regained custody of their children, the attorney said.
If the lawsuit obtains class action status, it would represent “all persons who have submitted urine, blood, hair or other biological specimens to the defendants for testing, with said testing being performed incorrectly, reported incorrectly or not performed or reported at all.”
Read the lawsuit filed against Brandy Murrah below.
Adams told AL.com he expected more criminal charges to be forthcoming against Murrah, possibly to include additional forgery charges, as well as theft and perjury charges. Theft charges would stem from tests Murrah was paid to perform but didn’t, and perjury charges would evolve from any cases in which she testified under oath about falsified results.
Murrah was not involved in any criminal cases, AL.com reported. There have been no indications she was paid to change the outcome of any cases.
The district attorney said it was not yet clear how many custody cases were affected by Murrah’s alleged crimes.
“We have no idea at this time how many people did not get their children back because of Ms. Murrah’s alleged fraudulent reports,” Adams told the Eagle. “I am furious and offended by these alleged crimes. I don’t understand how someone could be so callous and evil, to have no regard for the consequences of their actions. In my opinion, all cases affected by Murrah’s alleged actions must be redone in order to be fair.
Murrah’s attorney, David Harrison, told the newspaper his client is innocent until proven guilty.
“We are looking forward to going to court, and I believe a lot of information will come out during court,” Harrison said.
The forgery charges are not the first criminal charges filed against Murrah. Court records show she pleaded guilty in 2013 to five counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card, the Eagle reported.
She served three years’ probation in the Houston County case.
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