Chemist pleads not guilty after allegedly stealing drugs - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Chemist pleads not guilty after allegedly stealing drugs from lab

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BELCHERTOWN, MA (WSHM) -

The Hampshire County chemist accused of tampering with drug evidence at an Amherst crime lab faced a judge Tuesday.

Sonja Farak's lawyer entered not guilty pleas on her behalf.

The judge set a $5,000 cash bail with several conditions including that Farak stay drug free, report to probation weekly, that she surrender her passport and obey a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The 35-year-old had no comment as she left Eastern Hampshire District Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Police allege that Farak took a substance that tested positive for cocaine from the Massachusetts Crime Laboratory in Amherst where she worked as a chemist and replaced it with one that did not.

While arguing conditions of bail, the defense said this case is getting more attention as a result of the Jamaica Plains lab scandal involving chemist Annie Dookan who was indicted on 27 counts of mishandling and tainting drug evidence only a few months back.

"Put it this way, if we did not have the case in the Eastern part of the state, there wouldn't be such scrutiny in this case," said defense attorney, Elaine Pourinski. "And it would be, I would say, a case of personal recognizance given the lack of record and her substantial roots in the community."

The suspicion over Farak began last week when an evidence officer was unable to locate two separate cases from Springfield.

According to court papers obtained by CBS 3, plastic tubes containing various controlled substances were found in Farak's workstation and car.

"It very well could be a nightmare scenario for our office, but it is really too soon, really premature, to be able to tell that," said Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni.

Mastroianni told CBS 3 there is a long road ahead.

"We need to assess how many samples of drugs were at the Amherst laboratory at the time when this chemist was employed there, we need to assess how many of those samples this chemist had access to, we also need to assess how many samples were in fact interfered with," said Mastroianni.

Mastroianni said that Farak regularly appears in the county's court system testifying on evidence and that she is very much involved in the testing of samples sent out to the Amherst lab.

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