AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) –
Sonja Farak showed little emotion in court Tuesday. Investigators say earlier this month, as part of her job as a chemist at the State Police Crime Lab on the UMass campus, Farak was testing cocaine and heroin from local arrests. Police say she did the testing, but then cut the evidence bags open, stole the drugs, and replaced them with a fake substance. Investigators say they found evidence at her work station.
Farak pled not guilty to drug and evidence tampering charges. She was released on $5,000 bail but refused to answer questions leaving court. So we followed her home to ask her about the charges.
“This is private property, please leave, and when I mean private property, this whole area is private property run by homeowners,” Farak said.
We asked Farak if she had anything to say to anyone, including her coworkers or the state.
“Just for you guys to please leave right now, thank you,” she said.
Farak is the second state lab worker accused of tampering with criminal evidence. Annie Dookhan is charged with mishandling dozens of drug cases at a Boston crime lab last year. Farak’s attorney, Elaine Pourinski, argued in court that her client is getting extra scrutiny because of that case.
“Put it this way. If we did not have the case in the eastern part of the state, there wouldn’t be such scrutiny in this case,” Pourinski said.
Meanwhile, Hampden County District Attorney Mark Matroianni says Farak was set to testify as a witness in drug cases his office is prosecuting. Those trials have now been delayed. Matroianni hopes investigators won’t find any more evidence that Farak may have tampered with.
“When a sample goes to the lab, the drug evidence bag is sealed, often times with two separate heat sealing measures to maintain the integrity of the bag so we will be able to tell what bags were unopened,” Mastroianni said.
Farak began working in Amherst back in 2004. State Police officials say drug lab chemists are drug tested before they are hired. However, random drug testing is not part of their collective bargaining agreement. Farak will be back in court february 22nd.