BELCHERTOWN (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – A Massachusetts crime lab chemist accused of tampering with evidence and stealing drugs has pleaded not guilty.
Sonja Farak, 35, of Northampton, was arraigned Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, where bail was set at $5,000.
Farak worked at a state lab in Amherst and was arrested on Saturday. She's accused of removing samples that tested positive for cocaine and heroin and replacing them with counterfeit drugs. The stolen drugs were allegedly taken for her personal use.
This case comes on the heels of the Annie Dookhan case, the chemist who allegedly fabricated thousands of samples and jeopardized thousands of cases costing taxpayers millions.
Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson joined the FOX 25 Morning news live Tuesday and said the system needs to be evaluated by an outside source if something is going to change.
Farak is charged with possession of heroin and cocaine.
The lab contacted state police on Friday to report a discrepancy in inventory. The Amherst lab where Farak worked has been closed temporarily, and chemists transferred to another one.
Farak's lawyer says her client has no prior record.
Farak's case is not connected to the case of Dookhan.
Meanwhile, another Dookhan suspect is back out of jail. Arthur Cole, 24, was arrested on drug charges in March of 2011 and was serving a two-year sentence, but was released in December following the state drug lab fallout. The Patriot Ledger is reporting Cole was arrested on Friday for allegedly dealing drugs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Mass. officials under fire for second chemist arrest
AG: Amherst lab chemist tampered with evidence