Pubdate: Thu, 05 May 2016
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2016 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.
Author: Matt Stout
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


The former drug-addicted chemist who got high at work nearly every 
day for eight years handled more than 500 cases in Suffolk County 
alone - and up to 1,500 total were processed at the Amherst lab 
during her time there - according to officials sorting through the 
fallout of the state's latest drug lab scandal.

The case count in Suffolk likely represents only a fraction of those 
district attorneys across the state are now scrambling to identify in 
the wake of a damning attorney general's report on the misconduct of 
ex-chemist Sonja Farak.

Farak, who was convicted two years ago of tampering with evidence and 
other charges, handled roughly 30,000 samples before her 2013 arrest, 
according to defense attorneys. But law enforcement officials 
yesterday acknowledged they may ultimately have to review every case 
that flowed through the lab - a total that still remains unclear.

Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. 
Conley, said his office identified a little more than 500 cases where 
Farak performed testing, which he said "generally" included pills or 
marijuana and involved none after 2009. Farak, according to the 
report, stole cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs for years 
without detection, and even used the lab to cook crack after hours.

"Our experience with the Hinton Lab crisis has provided us with a 
framework for identifying and acting on these cases," Wark said, 
pointing to the separate crisis sparked by ex-chemist Annie Dookhan, 
who doctored samples for years, potentially tainting up to 40,000 cases.

In the Berkshires, District Attorney David Sullivan - who is also the 
president of the statewide district attorneys association - said 
there are potentially 3,000 cases affected in his county, though as 
of yesterday he had only seen a handful of requests or motions 
challenging convictions.

"I have obvious concerns about any of our cases that went through 
that lab," he said.

Potential case counts where Farak was the chemist varied across other 
counties, including 400 in Middelesex County, 190 in Essex and 100 in 
Plymouth, according to officials there. Up to 800 cases total from 
Norfolk County went through the lab, including 300 Farak handled directly.

Officials in Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni's 
office did not return calls or emails yesterday, though he told last year that "tens of thousand" of cases could be 
affected there.

Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration has a "big responsibility" 
in helping those whose cases may be impacted.

"We fully expect we're going to be doing that for the next several 
months," he said. "We're certainly going to have to put resources 
into this because a lot of cases were affected by it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom