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Local Defense Attorney Reacts to Chemist Arrest

Amherst Crime Lab

AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) — Another chemist at a Massachusetts drug lab is in trouble with the law.

Thirty-five year old Sonja Farak is accused of testing drugs then stealing cocaine and heroin for her own use.  Attorney General Martha Coakley says two missing drug samples were found at Farak’s workstation.

“They were able to determine, and this is the heart of the allegation, that after testing drugs, determining them to be the actual drugs, the cocaine and the heroin, that the allegation is that this chemist then removed that substance, the real substance, substituted a counterfeit substance, we allege, in order to cover the tracks of what she has done already,” said Coakley.

Farak was arrested over the weekend at her Northampton home.

“When we can no longer relay on the test results, you know the whole process you know shuts down,” said Marissa Elkins, defense attorney.

Elkins is a defense attorney in Northampton.  She says changes with the drug lab are long over due.

“Lax oversight and lack of transparency in the process really undercuts what we can relay on, what happens in court,” said Elkins.

She would also like to see more separation between the state and the testing process.

Because of the investigation the Amherst drug lab has temporarily been shut down something Elkins says could hurt defendants if it remains closed for a an extend amount of time.

“It absolutely slows the due process of the law, it already takes a tremendous amount of time to get these results back. We face back logs for weeks if not months,” said Elkins.

Chemists from the Amherst lab will be temporarily transferred to the Sudbury lab.

Both the Northwestern District Attorney and Hampden County District Attorney will see if any criminal cases will be impacted.

The allegations come several months after Annie Dookhan was indicted on 27 charges.  Dookhan pleaded not guilty to faking test results and tampering with evidence in criminal cases in the Boston lab.


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