Trial date set in evidence tampering case of UMass drug lab chemist Sonja Farak



Last modified: Thursday, August 29, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — The trial of Sonja Farak, the former state drug laboratory chemist accused of evidence tampering and drug theft, is tentatively set to begin in February.

Farak, 35, of Northampton, has pleaded not guilty to four counts each of evidence tampering and larceny of a drug and two counts of possessing a class B drug (cocaine).

Alleged tampering in the Amherst lab led a judge to allow retrials in at least nine Hampden County cases for which Farak allegedly handled drug evidence.

Farak’s attorney, Elaine Pourinski, and Assistant Attorney General Anne Kaczmarek asked Hamphsire Superior Court Judge Richard Carey to add the case to the February trial list and requested a motion filing deadline of Oct. 11 and a hearing on those motions in November.

Carey agreed to the requests.

Farak was arrested in January after state police were contacted by the drug lab on the University of Massachusetts campus about discrepancies in its drug evidence inventory.

The Amherst Drug Laboratory was tasked with storing and analyzing substances seized by local and state police.

The investigation into the discrepancies led to allegations that Farak had tampered with four drug samples at the lab. In two of those cases, Farak allegedly mixed drug evidence samples with counterfeit drugs to hide the thefts, and in two other cases samples were missing altogether, according to the attorney general’s office.

In March, Carey, while sitting in Hampden County, set bail for nine defendants in cases originating between January 2006 and January 2012, pending motions for new trials, because evidence in those cases had been linked to Farak.

The nine defendants were convicted of crimes including possessing cocaine with intent to distribute and trafficking.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.


 


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