NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) – A former chemist pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing drugs from a state crime lab in a case prosecutors said led to the dismissals of more than 200 drug cases.
Sonja Farak pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to theft of a controlled substance, tampering with evidence and drug possession, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced. The 35-year-old Northampton resident was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, with 18 months to serve and the rest suspended during a five-year probation.
Farak was arrested in January 2013 after co-workers at the Amherst lab reported that drugs were missing.
Prosecutors said Farak tampered with four drug samples stored at the lab, in two cases mixing the drug evidence with counterfeit drugs to hide her thefts. They said cases were dismissed because Farak couldn’t testify about the results of her drug testing.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported the judge told Farak in court her conduct “clearly has eroded everybody’s confidence” in the crime labs, which can affect people’s lives and liberties.
Defense attorney Elaine Pourinski asked the judge to sentence Farak to four years of probation, saying she struggles with drug addiction and mental health issues, the Gazette reported.
“She is here to take responsibility,” Pourinski said. “She doesn’t blame anyone else. She blames herself.”
Farak’s case is not connected to that of former chemist Annie Dookhan, who worked at a state drug lab in Boston. Dookhan pleaded guilty to faking test results in criminal cases to make herself look more productive. She was sentenced in November to at least three years in prison. State officials said she jeopardized thousands of convictions.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain