Another Mass. Chemist Faces Serious Charges

(NECN: Deanna Morgan, Boston) - The case - all too familiar - a state chemist tampering with evidence. The defendant - 35 year old, Sonja Farak of Northampton. Here's what happened.

"Last Thursday around 3:30, the evidence Officer and Supervisor at that laboratory in Amherst started to do what was a routine check," says Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley during a weekend news conference.

The Supervisor was looking at certifications of drug evidence that had been tested, according to Coakley. Two sets of samples couldn't be found. Come to find out, Sonja Farak handled the evidence. So, the Supervisor went to check Farak's workstation.

"They saw the certain substances that appeared to be drugs, and upon further examination appeared to be counterfeit drugs," says Coakley.

Here's the heart of the allegations. Coakley says Farak allegedly took real drugs from the samples she was handling possibly for her own self use, and replaced them with a counterfeit substance so no one would know.

"It was the cooperation and the alertness of co-workers in that lab in Amherst that brought this to our attention immediately," says State Massachsetts Police Colonel, Timothy Alben.

Operations at the Amherst lab have been ceased temporarily. Sonja Farak was arrested this weekend and is charged with two counts of tampering with evidence and possessing drugs.

"We will as we have in other matters that have come to our attention make sure we get to the bottom of it," says Coakley.

Farak started her career as a chemist in the same state crime lab in Jamaica Plain where chemist Annie Dookhan worked.

Dookhan also faces charges that include tampering with police crime lab evidence. Unlike Dookhan, Farak's case may only have little to no impact on state drug cases.

Workers at the Amherst State Crime Laboratory have been transferred to the State's Sudbury Laboratory while the investigation involving Farak continues.

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