Nearly 5,500 drug cases possibly tainted by convicted Amherst lab chemist to be dismissed

Sonja Farak convicted of tampering with drug samples

sonja farak
In this WWLP file image from 2013, former drug lab chemist Sonja Farak is seen during her arraignment at Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Nearly 5,500 drug convictions that could have been tainted by former Amherst chemist Sonja Farak will be dismissed by the Northwestern and Hampden District Attorneys.

Farak was convicted of tampering with drug samples during her time at the Department of Public health laboratory in Amherst.

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Northwestern District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Mary Carey told 22News 1,497 criminal cases from 2004 to 2012 are expected to be dismissed. The nearly 1,500 convictions were based upon certificates of analysis signed by Farak.  Hampden County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jim Leydon told 22News nearly 3,940 district and juvenile court drug convictions involving drug samples in which Farak signed the certificate of analysis will be dismissed. Gulluni told 22News an additional 1,000 superior court cases are currently under review.

Carey said Northwestern DA David Sullivan has been working for years to identify every drug case impacted by Farak’s misconduct.

“Rather than sifting through these cases to see which ones might be capable of re-prosecution, District Attorney Sullivan decided a different approach was needed,” Carey said.

“The egregious misconduct committed by one rogue chemist at the Amherst Lab shook the very foundation of our criminal justice system, the integrity of which must be preserved at all costs,” said District Attorney David Sullivan.

Sullivan said it would not be in the best interests of justice to attempt to re-prosecute anyone.