The Massachusetts prosecutors are watching thousands of cases being dismissed because of malpractice uncovered at the lab they used to test narcotics. Sonja Farak, a chemist at the state’s drug crime lab was found guilty of stealing drugs from the lab and tampering with evidence sent to the lab. Over 6,000 criminal drug cases will be dismissed upon this revelation.
Farak testified she has been high on various drugs from the lab while at work for the last 8 years. Farak said she began getting high on the job in 2005 by stealing the labs bases, or reference samples. She would use the pure methamphetamine every day and stated, “I felt amazing. It gave me energy. I felt more alert. I did not wish it, but it gave me the pep I was looking for.”
She continued the practice of consuming the pure lab samples for years. In 2009 the lab was becoming depleted of its base methamphetamine supply and Farak began to explore the nature of other drugs at her disposal. She began to party hard, consuming Ketamine, MDMA, MDEA, and LSD.
Some of the drugs she began to consume were the actual police samples brought in for testing. Farak was in the lab getting wasted on an assortment of drugs while testing evidence which would be crucial in the prosecution of thousands of criminal drug cases. She testifies she was high at work and high when called in to testify at court and no one was the wiser.
Farak said she sought treatment for her drug abuse in January 2009 but to no avail. She continued to use the lab samples as a steady supply to get high on the purest of drugs. In 2011 Farak used most of the base standard samples the lab kept of methamphetamine, ketamine, and amphetamine. What is a junkie to do when her preferred drugs run dry? Crack.
Farak began to use crack cocaine when she used up what she could of all the other base samples at her disposal. She would smoke at work and even in the lab, all the while testing police evidence. In 2009 she stole a sample of LSD to consume while she was jacked up on crack. She says she was too high to drive and “very impaired” but records show she ran tests on 11 samples that day.
At the end of 2012, Farak thought she struck gold when the Chicopee Police Department submitted a kilogram of cocaine to her lab for testing. She took 100 grams off the top to cook up into crack which she had come to adore. Conveniently she could use the equipment in the lab to cook up top notch crack.
During her crack fueled mania in the lab she would also find herself digging into evidence assigned to be tested by other chemists. When the other chemists were out of sight she would steal a portion of the evidence drugs and exchange it for fake drugs.
It all came to and end January 17, 2013. Farak’s binge crack use led her to make mistakes which her colleagues took notice of. Two evidence bags were missing, both logged as being tested by Farak. When Farak left to testify in court one morning, another chemist alerted her supervisor. Upon a quick search of the lab for the bags they would discover them both in her desk, seals broken and tampered with, along with drug paraphernalia presumably used for consuming and making the substances.
The police were alerted and the lab was shut down immediately. Further investigation would reveal that the lab also engaged in “dry testing.” Dry testing is a chemist just looking at the evidence drugs and taking a guess, this type of testing is obviously not accurate and certainly would not stand up in the court of law.
Farak would be sentenced to 2 ½ years, 18 months to be served in jail and the remaining time to be suspended for five years.
This lab is the second in Massachusetts to undergo serious investigation, the Hinton lab was previously shut down after an investigation into the chemist, Annie Dookham, who would subsequently be arrested. Her circumstances were similar to Farak’s. She tested samples used in 34,000 criminal drug cases, and 20,000 of those cases are now open for further investigation.