MISSOULA, Mont. — A former chemist at Montana’s state crime lab in Missoula has pleaded not guilty to charges that he took methamphetamine left over from samples being tested for suspected drugs in criminal cases.

The clerk’s office says Derek Thrush entered his pleas Tuesday during an appearance before District Judge Karen Townsend.

Thrush faces three counts each of felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs, misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor official misconduct.

Court records say Thrush’s brother-in-law told police that the chemist had confessed to using meth taken from the lab. Thrush allegedly obtained the drugs from samples submitted for analysis by law enforcement agencies.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 1.

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