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Lab Technician Pleads Guilty

February 10, 2000

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A former lab technician plead guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor assault and felony unlawful disposal of radioactive material for smearing a compound on a co-worker’s chair.

Andrew Andris Blakis, 32, was sentenced to 120 days in jail and three years probation, Orange County Deputy District Attorney Lance Jensen said.

Blakis also was ordered to stay away from the victim, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine, and pay any future medical costs she may incur as a result of the assault.

Jensen said the July 1, 1999, incident occurred because Blakis believed the researcher, Jingtong Zuo, had tried to poison him with a radioactive substance, P32 isotope, a waxy, colorless chemical used in DNA testing.

Blakis put the compound on her chair, Jensen said. She sat on the chair for about six hours before she discovered the contamination, officials said.

Investigators estimate she was exposed to an average yearlong dose of radiation during the time. She has not experienced any side effects of radiation poisoning, Jensen said.

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