After confessing to stealing money from the dead, an investigator for the San Francisco medical examiner has resigned, The Standard has learned.
Anthony Marchini—who spent more than five years investigating deaths in San Francisco and telling families their loved ones died—admitted to the thefts last October during a lie detector test he took while applying for promotion, according to court records obtained by The Standard.
The medical examiner stripped Marchini of his badge and put him on paid leave that same day over the theft and other possible criminal conduct. He resigned the following month ahead of an interview over the allegations.
The revelations are just the latest scandal to roil the office that’s struggled in past years to meet national accreditation standards. The most recent scandal came in 2020 when one of its lab analysts, Justin Volk, was accused of stealing methamphetamine from the evidence room and later faced misdemeanor criminal charges filed by former DA Chesa Boudin.
The allegations against Marchini came to light shortly before the office achieved full accreditation late last year by completing autopsy and toxicology reports within three months and eliminating a backlog of death cases.
While it’s unclear whether the office told its accreditor about the issues with Marchini, officials say they didn’t have to.
“The accreditation process does not contemplate or require an agency to alert them of discrete departmental issues,” said David Serrano Sewell, the office’s executive director. Serrano Sewell added that the office operates with the “highest degree of ethics, excellence, and empathy.”
Barbara Wolf, chair of inspection and accreditation for the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), confirmed that the allegations are “morally outrageous” but “not an accreditation issue.”
"Accreditation deals with the entire working of the system, not the actions of an individual person,” said Wolf, whose association accredited the office.
Serrano Sewell said he could not comment on personnel matters, but confirmed Marchini no longer works for the city.
“We expect all employees to maintain the highest level of ethics, integrity, and compliance with the law in performing their duties,” he said. “When made aware of misconduct, we refer it to human resources for corrective action. If warranted, we notify law enforcement for potential prosecution.”
Marchini joined the medical examiner’s office in August 2013 as an entry-level aide and was promoted to investigator on April 17, 2017, according to the city. As an investigator, Marchini examined death scenes, wrote reports on cause and manner of death and contacted next of kin.
Attempts to reach Marchini and his family by phone numbers listed online were not immediately successful.
Randy Quezada, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on any current or potential investigations against Marchini.
While Quezada said there is “no reason to believe” Marchini’s misconduct impacted any criminal cases, he said the District Attorney’s Office has disclosed the allegations against the investigator to defense attorneys.
“Marchini has never testified in court and only served as an investigator in a limited number of cases,” Quezada said.
But Sandy Feinland, a deputy public defender in San Francisco, worries about the implications for criminal cases that rely on evidence from death scenes Marchini investigated.
“It doesn’t get any lower than stealing from a dead person,” Feinland said. "This is another stain on a beleaguered medical examiner’s office with a history of scandals."
During his two-hour polygraph test on Oct. 22, 2022, court records say Marchini initially tried to fool the exam.
“Marchini didn’t follow instructions and messed up his breathing immediately because he was trying to ‘beat the test,’” the polygrapher who tested Marchini said in court documents.
Marchini then seemed to admit wrongdoing while saying it was unintentional.
“Stealing money was an accident,” Marchini said, according to the records.
He later admitted to stealing items and money on purpose, but when and how much was not listed in the records.
Colleagues who worked closely with Marchini said they had no idea about his alleged misconduct, according to the documents.
Marchini resigned in late November.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin has criticized the office for lacking accreditation in the past, but said he had faith in the new leadership of Serrano Sewell and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Liverman.
“This is obviously a terrible thing to have happened,” Peskin said, “but I have been very pleased with the progress that the new medical examiner and his new team have made in a short period of time.”
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at [email protected]
Michael Barba can be reached at [email protected]