More than 24,000 Massachusetts drug convictions tossed in cases involving former state chemist

More than 24,000 drug convictions in Massachusetts have been dismissed after a former state lab chemist was found to have tainted the cases by working high almost every day.

Sonja Farak allegedly used drugs she either stole from or made in the Amherst lab, resulting in thousands being convicted based on unreliable evidence.

In October, the court ordered dismissals of all convictions based on evidence from the lab between Jan. 1, 2009, and Jan. 18, 2013, when the lab closed.

“This is a historic victory for thousands of people who were deeply harmed by our criminal legal system, first by Sonja Farak’s wrongdoing and then by the wrongdoing of government attorneys who covered up the scandal,” Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.


Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing drugs and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.