Chemist Charged with Felony Fraud

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.?At one time, Fred Zain was a prosecutor?s dream: a respected crime-lab chemist with a compelling courtroom demeanor whose testimony helped convict hundreds of people.

The trouble, authorities now say, is that much of what Zain had to say was questionable at best, or outright lies at worst.

Tuesday, jury selection started for Zain?s trial on five felony fraud charges for accepting a salary and benefits in West Virginia while allegedly failing to correctly perform his duties.

It?s Zain?s second trial in West Virginia. In 1995, he was acquitted on one perjury charge; a second was dismissed. In 1997, he avoided a perjury trial in Texas, because the statute of limitations had expired.

Defense lawyer Tom Smith got the upcoming trial moved from Charleston to Beckley after a poll of potential jurors found that most had heard of Zain, and half of them believe he?s guilty.