For Immediate Release - January 06, 2014

State Crime Lab Chemist Pleads Guilty, Sentenced in Connection with Stealing Drugs from Lab, Tampering with Evidence

NORTHAMPTON – A chemist at the Massachusetts State Crime Laboratory in Amherst has pleaded guilty to stealing controlled substances from the lab, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. The chemist also pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with 18 months to serve.

“State lab chemists have a duty to uphold the law and protect the integrity of the evidence in their control,” said AG Coakley. “This defendant has admitted to stealing drug evidence from the lab and in some cases even replacing the samples with counterfeit substances in an attempt to cover her tracks.”

Sonja Farak, 35, of Northampton, pleaded guilty today in Hampshire Superior Court to charges of Theft of a Controlled Substance from an Authorized Dispensary (4 counts), Tampering with Evidence (4 counts), and Possession of a Class B Substance (2 counts).

After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced Farak to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with 18 months to serve and the balance suspended for probationary period of five years upon her release. Judge Rup imposed probation conditions that Farak undergo drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment and complete 500 hours of community service.

In January 2013, members of the Amherst Laboratory contacted State Police to report a discrepancy in the controlled substance inventory held in evidence. The Amherst Drug Laboratory is charged with storing and analyzing alleged controlled substances seized by local and state police.

State Police commenced an immediate investigation into the matter. Based on that investigation, authorities alleged that Farak tampered with drug evidence at the lab. Authorities also determined that the defendant possessed controlled substances that appeared to be cocaine. State Police assigned to the AG’s Office arrested Farak at her home on January 19, 2013.

Further investigation into the matter revealed that Farak tampered with four drug samples stored at the lab. In two of the cases, Farak mixed drug evidence samples with counterfeit drugs to hide the theft and that in another two cases, the samples were missing entirely. Controlled substances revealed to be cocaine were found both in Farak’s workstation and in her vehicle. Authorities also discovered Farak in possession of materials consistent with the counterfeit material added to two of the drug samples.

Farak wasarrested on January 19, 2013 and arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court on January 22, 2013. A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Farak on April 1, 2013 and she was arraigned in Hampshire Superior Court on April 22, 2013. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced today.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Anne Kaczmarek and Criminal Bureau Chief John Verner of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.

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