Bail revoked for former state drug lab chemist Sonja Farak after she tests positive for cocaine



Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — Instead of spending the holidays with her family, former drug lab chemist Sonja Farak will spend the rest of 2013 in custody after violating her bail conditions.

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).

Hampshire Superior Court Judge Mary-Lou Rup on Monday granted the prosecution’s request to revoke Farak’s bail after cocaine was found in her system during a random drug test.

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

Farak is accused of removing drug samples from the lab, replacing them with other materials and keeping the narcotics for her own personal use, according to Assistant Attorney General Beth Lux who appeared in Hampshire Superior Court Monday to argue for the revocation of bail.

According to Lux and the Probation Department, Farak submitted to a random drug screening on Monday as part of the conditions of release on $5,000 bail she posted at her arraignment in January in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown. Farak’s drug test on Monday reacted positively for cocaine, according to Lux.

Before testing, Farak denied having any drugs in her system, Lux said. When confronted with the positive result, Farak admitted to snorting “a few lines” of cocaine at a party the previous Friday night, according to Lux.

Attending that party may have also violated the curfew provision in the conditions of Farak’s release, according to the Probation Department.

Farak’s lawyer, Elaine Pourinski of Northampton, said this was the first violation of Farak’s release conditions in nearly a year and that she succumbed to the “extreme pressure” caused by the attention surrounding her case.

Pourinski said Farak accepted an invitation to the party following an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Friday.

Pourinski asked Rup to consider allowing Farak to remain free on bail, with the added condition of reporting to probation once a week.

Besides remaining drug-free and submitting to random screenings, Farak had to observe a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, with exceptions available for visiting out-of-state relatives and pursuing job opportunities.

Farak will be held at the Western Mass Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee.

She is expected to appear in court on Jan. 3 to enter a change of plea.

In November, new trials were granted for two men convicted of drug trafficking after it was revealed Farak handled drug evidence related to their cases.

As many as 208 drug cases were dismissed from district and superior courts because Farak could not testify about the results of her drug testing. Most of those cases can be retried, according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Frank E. Flannery, but the drugs involved will have to be retested.

Another former drug lab chemist, Annie Dookhan, who worked at the Hinton laboratory in Jamaica Plain, pleaded guilty in November to 27 counts of misleading investigators, filing false reports and evidence tampering. She was sentenced to three to five years in state prison.

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


 

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