- Office of the Inspector General
Media Contact for Summary of the Methodology for the Investigation of the Drug Laboratory at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute
In 2012, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) undertook an investigation of the Drug Laboratory at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute (Drug Lab). The OIG issued its report in March 2014 (Hinton Report). In February 2016, the OIG issued a supplemental report that described the results of the OIG’s retesting of drug samples (Supplemental Report).
After the OIG issued its reports, the Supreme Judicial Court in 2017 dismissed over 21,000 drug convictions because of former chemist Annie Dookhan’s malfeasance at the Hinton Drug Lab between 2003 and 2011. In 2018, the Supreme Judicial Court dismissed an additional 16,000 drug convictions because of former chemist Sonja Farak’s malfeasance at the State Laboratory Institute in Amherst (Amherst Drug Lab) between 2004 and 2013. Prior to working at the Amherst Drug Lab, Farak had been a chemist at the Hinton Drug Lab from 2003 to 2004.
Given the extraordinary impact that Dookhan’s and Farak’s misconduct has had on the Commonwealth, the OIG’s Hinton Drug Lab investigation has continued to receive attention for its comprehensive findings about failures at the Drug Lab and misconduct by Dookhan. Just as notable, in its investigation, the OIG did not find evidence of misconduct by any chemist, including Farak, that may have impacted the reliability of drug testing at the Hinton Drug Lab other than what it reported about Dookhan. The OIG stands by its investigative findings. Nevertheless, Farak’s misconduct at the Amherst Drug Lab has brought added scrutiny to her time at the Hinton Drug Lab.
The summary of the methodology of the OIG’s Hinton Drug Lab investigation demonstrates how the OIG achieved its objective to conduct a thorough and complete top-to-bottom investigation of the Drug Lab from 2002 to 2012. The summary describes how the OIG conducted the investigation and includes information about how the OIG’s investigation methodology encompassed Farak and the other chemists at the Hinton Drug Lab. It does not recap the full background of the Drug Lab crisis or the extensive findings from the investigation. For that information, readers should review the OIG’s Hinton Report and Supplemental Report, which detail the OIG’s comprehensive review of the lab over the course of thirty-nine months.