Ex-drug lab chemist may have tainted thousands of cases

Published July 4, 2015

BOSTON — A former chemist at a Massachusetts drug lab convicted of stealing drugs to feed her addictions may have tainted as many as 10,000 criminal prosecutions, not just a few dozen as first thought, according to newly released court documents.

Now, defense lawyers are calling for an independent review of the cases, according to the Boston Globe.

Sonja Farak was addicted to cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamines, but from 2004 to 2013, she never left her Amherst office to buy street drugs, according to the records. She was arrested in 2013.

"She obtains the drugs from her job at the state drug lab, by taking portions of samples that have come in to be tested," one of Farak's therapists wrote after an April 2009 counseling session, according to records filed in Hampden Superior Court.

Randolph Gioia, deputy chief counsel for the Committee on Public Counsel Services, the state's public defender agency, called for an "independent, completely transparent investigation" into the thousands of people potentially affected by Farak's actions.

Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to four counts of tampering with evidence, four counts of stealing cocaine from the lab and two counts of unlawful possession of cocaine, and she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.