Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Drug Addict Worked at State Drug Lab

Why pay for your own when you can steal it from work?

"2d state chemist charged with drug tampering" by Travis Andersen  |  Globe Staff, January 20, 2013

With state courts still reeling from trouble at the now-shuttered drug lab in Jamaica Plain, a second chemist — this one at the crime lab in Amherst — is being charged with tampering with drug evidence, authorities said Sunday.

Sonja Farak, 35, of Northampton, allegedly tested two samples, believed to be heroin and cocaine, on Jan. 2 and Jan. 8 and then replaced the drugs with counterfeit substances, Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters at an afternoon news conference.

The allegations in the case against Farak are vastly different than those against Annie Dookhan, formerly a chemist at the Jamaica Plain lab, Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters. She said officials are still trying to determine when Farak’s alleged theft of drugs, apparently for personal use, began.

Doesn't matter; all her case work should be considered tainted (although I guess you need to look at the negative results, right? Those would be the drugs she stole).

Authorities have found no evidence that suspects’ due process rights were violated in any Amherst cases. “These drugs . . . were tested fairly,” Coakley said. For now, she said, Farak is charged only in these two cases.

Translation: Dookhan did enough damage and we need to bury this as quickly as possible.

By contrast, Dookhan’s alleged misdeeds have already resulted in the release from custody of scores of convicted drug dealers and defendants awaiting trial and could taint thousands of prosecutions.

See: Mass. Drug Labs a Mess

But Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni, whose office handled the two cases in question, would not rule out a scenario like the one playing out in the Dookhan case. Prosecutors have been bogged down with an ongoing review of cases involving so-called “Dookhan defendants.”

“I think it would be realistic to think that something like that is about to start happening in Hampden County,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s premature to tell you that definitively.”

He said Farak was in Springfield District Court on Friday to testify in another drug case when he learned of her impending arrest, so prosecutors could not put her on the stand. The case was dismissed.

“She was right there in our district court ready to go,” Mastroianni said. “That’s how real of an impact it is on Hampden County.” He said he did not know how the two cases Farak is charged in were resolved.

Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan, whose office handles cases in Hampshire and Franklin counties, called the charges against Farak disturbing.

“Our office has already commenced an internal assessment of how many criminal prosecutions, both past and present, may be jeopardized by this chemist’s alleged wrongdoing,” Sullivan said in a prepared statement.

Farak was arrested Saturday night and is facing charges of tampering with evidence, possession of a class A substance, and possession of a class B substance, according to Coakley’s office.

She was held on $75,000 cash bail, Coakley said, and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court. It was not immediately clear if she had posted bail or has an attorney.

Farak could not be reached for comment....

Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy P. Alben said during the news conference that the Amherst lab will temporarily close while authorities investigate, and its operations will be transferred to a State Police lab in Sudbury....

There is no provision in the lab chemists’ collective bargaining agreement for random drug testing, according to State Police spokesman David Procopio....

So? Reopen it like you did for the teachers, cops, firefighters. I mean, I have to piss in a cup just to get a job.

“The news [announced Sunday] is that we have a corrupt chemist at a crime lab, and that calls into question the reliability of at least everything that she was involved in,” said Max D. Stern, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Yeah, that's right.


"State chemist allegedly used crime drugs; Arrested before she was to testify in Springfield court" by Brian Ballou  |  Globe Staff, January 22, 2013

BELCHERTOWN — Chemist Sonja Farak stole and apparently used illegal drugs entrusted to her by the state to test as evidence in criminal cases, replacing the drugs with look-alike substances in an attempt to hide her actions, authorities said in court documents.

So real drug dealers were let back out on the street? 

Last week, authorities followed a trail of evidence that took them from Farak’s work station at the State Police-run lab in Amherst to her car, where they recovered cocaine and heroin that had been previously submitted by law enforcement to the lab for testing, according to the newly released documents.

Farak, 35, parked her Volkswagen Golf outside Springfield District Court on Friday, where she was scheduled to testify as an expert witness in an unrelated drug case. Troopers confronted her inside that courthouse and seized her car, which they searched, discovering the drugs and other lab materials, the documents state.

She was going to get high to testify, or was it going to be for later?

Farak was arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court on Tuesday and charged with two counts each of withholding evidence and drug possession. Her attorney, Elaine Pourinski, pleaded not guilty on her behalf.

Pourinski told Judge John Payne that Farak does not have a criminal record and is regarded as an upstanding citizen in her neighborhood in Northampton. Two hours after the arraignment, Farak’s parents posted $5,000 cash bail.

Well, was anyway.

With an unprecedented drug lab scandal already revolving around Annie Dookhan, the chemist who allegedly tampered with hundreds of evidence samples at the Hinton lab in Jamaica Plain, leading to the release of almost 200 defendants, Farak’s alleged wrong­doings further tarnish a system critically important to prosecutors.

So far there is evidence suggesting that Farak allegedly corrupted only two cases, but an investigation by State Police is ongoing. That investigation may lead authorities back to Boston and the Hinton lab, where both chemists worked in 2003 and 2004.

That's ten years of.... (sigh).  

Related(?): Correction Contradiction in Massachusetts

I think it's beyond correction.

Though Farak spent most of her career in Amherst, she analyzed more than 11,000 drug samples from Boston cases, according to records from the ­Jamaica Plain lab. As a result, questions about the integrity of her work could have an impact in Boston.

While working at the Jamaica Plain lab, records show Farak analyzed more than 9,000 samples, frequently producing more test results per month than Dookhan, who is now facing criminal indictment for allegedly falsifying test results.


Must have been cause she was all hopped up on cocaine and heroin. 

What do they call that, a speedball? Didn't those kill Belushi?

After Farak was transferred to Amherst in 2004, she still analyzed drug evidence from nearly 2,000 Boston cases, according to the records.

The Hinton lab, which had been run by the state’s Department of Health, was shut down early last year by Governor ­Deval Patrick after the allegations against Dookhan surfaced. The task of analyzing drug samples was transferred to State Police labs.

Curtis Wood, undersecretary of forensic science and technology for the executive office of public safety and security, said Tuesday that the Amherst lab, which handles 3,000 cases a year, has been shut down and the chemists and case load have been sent to a Sudbury lab.

Patrick said that he, like the public, was surprised that another chemist has been charged with a crime. “My first reaction was, you’ve got to be kidding me,” he said.

He said that after learning more about the case, he believes it is completely different from the scandal involving Dookhan.

“The most important take-home I think is that no individual’s due process rights were compromised” in the Amherst lab, he said.

Yes, make this scandal disappear like a couple of lines.

He also rejected Republican legislation calling for more drug lab oversight, but said he would be willing to talk with its sponsors.

Maybe you wouldn't mind peeing in a cup, guv?

In 2011, Dookhan tried to help Farak analyze a drug she had never examined before. A supervisor, Peter Piro, asked Dookhan to assist Farak in analyzing something called “lisdexamfetamine.”

They worked together?

Farak was concerned because when she ran the sample, she said she got a “very poor” match, Piro said, adding that she said she was “concerned that it may not be what it is supposed to be. Only thing [evidence] on the guy too.”

Farak’s attorney said Tuesday that the media attention that followed her client has been exacerbated by the Dookhan scandal.

“If we didn’t have the case from the eastern part of the state, there would not be so much scrutiny,” Pourinski said during the arraignment, as a half-dozen cameras focused on her and Farak, sitting in a holding bin with her hands cuffed.

I don't know if the cuffs are needed there, but is she implying it would be no big deal without the bigger scandal?

Several of the defendant’s neighbors submitted statements to the court supporting Farak.

“As a licensed clinical social worker for 28 years, I am often in the position of vouching for an individual’s character and am happy to do so for Ms. Farak,” said Marcie D. Cooper, who lives several houses away from Farak on Laurel Park, a street within a condominium community.

Neighbors talked about how Farak always took it upon herself to clear snow from their driveways, walk their dogs while they were on vacation, and drive incapacitated neighbors to medical appointments.


She was doing it while on drugs.


She looks like she's on something.

Gee, that was a quick couple lines from the Boston Globe.... and then it was gone.