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State official opts for bench trial on misconduct charges

April 11, 2022 GMT

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A high-ranking state medical official who is also a former Delaware lawmaker has opted for a bench trial instead of a jury trial on charges of official misconduct and falsifying business records.

The trial of Rebecca D. Walker is set to begin Tuesday afternoon in New Castle County Superior Court.

Walker is the director of nursing in the state Division of Public Health and a former state House representative. She is accused of submitting phony records regarding employee alcohol and drug testing over a period of almost five years while she served as deputy director of the state Division of Forensic Science.

Walker was placed on paid administrative leave from her nursing post after being indicted in April 2021, but was allowed to return to work less than three weeks later.

As Democratic vice-chair of the House Health and Human Development, Walker cosponsored and helped pass a bill in 2014 that created the forensic science division. Months later, without a public job posting, she was hired as deputy director of the division at a salary of more than $92,000.

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The indictment alleges that between May 2015 and February 2020, Walker “with the intent to defraud,” falsified employee substance abuse testing records, indicating that employees had passed tests they never received.

The alleged falsification occurred in the wake of an evidence-tampering scandal involving the former Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and its drug laboratory. That scandal caused upheaval in the criminal court system, resulted in the arrests of two employees and the firing of the medical examiner. It also led lawmakers to abolish the medical examiner’s office and replace it with the forensic science division.

Walker is charged with falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, and official misconduct, all misdemeanors. She could face up to three years in prison if convicted.