Cases Tainted by Perpetually High Lab Worker Tossed Out

Sonja Farak abused crime lab drugs for 8 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2018 3:14 AM CDT
More Cases Tainted by Perpetually High Lab Worker Tossed Out
In this Jan. 22, 2013 photo, Sonja Farak, left, stands during her arraignment at Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.   (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool, File)

Thousands of additional drug cases tainted by a former chemist authorities say was high on an assortment of substances almost every day she worked at a state drug lab for eight years must be dismissed, Massachusetts' highest court ruled Thursday. The Supreme Judicial Court's decision is the latest twist in a saga that has already resulted in the dismissal of more than 11,000 convictions and exposed that two former state prosecutors had withheld evidence about the scope of Sonja Farak's misconduct, the AP reports. Cases that were tossed previously were those only involving evidence tested by Farak. The new order applies to cases worked on by other chemists while Farak was employed by the lab.

The state must dismiss all convictions that were based on evidence at the Amherst lab between Jan. 1, 2009, and when the lab closed on Jan. 18, 2013, the court said. Some people who will be affected may still be in prison, says Rebecca Jacobstein, an attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state's public defender agency. Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing drugs from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. She confessed that between 2005 and 2013, she had heavily used meth, LSD, cocaine, and other drugs submitted by police, and even used lab equipment to manufacture crack cocaine.

(More Massachusetts stories.)

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