Hundreds more drug cases in Massachusetts are expected to be dismissed over continued fears evidence processed by a disgraced former chemist at the center of a state drug lab scandal may be unreliable.
Chemist Sonja Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to tampering and using drugs she was supposed to be testing at the state lab in Amherst. She was sentenced to more than a year in prison.
Years before Farak worked in Amherst, she held a job at the state drug lab in Boston.
The Norfolk County district attorney confirmed to WBUR on Monday that he would drop 200 cases from that Boston lab over worries of tainted evidence.
The Hinton Lab in Jamaica Plain, where Farak worked, is the same facility where another former state chemist, Annie Dookhan, worked before she was convicted of faking results there. Both processed evidence in 2003 and 2004.
Both of the high-profile scandals resulted in thousands of convictions that relied on drug lab evidence being thrown out.
The state conducted a $6 million investigation into what went on at the Hinton drug lab and concluded that there was wrongdoing on behalf of Dookhan, but critics, including Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, have argued the scope of the probe was not extensive enough and did not specifically detail how it cleared Farak of wrongdoing.
As WBUR reported earlier this month, Ryan sent a scathing letter to state public safety officials summarizing her concerns. Her letter stated:
"In its report, the [Office of the Inspector General] stated that it did a 'top to bottom' investigation and concluded that Annie Dookhan 'was the sole bad actor.' Although this suggests by negative implication that the OIG concluded that Farak had not engaged in misconduct at the Hinton Lab, the OIG has not stated this expressly nor has it specifically explained how its investigation ruled out misconduct by Farak."
Dookhan was convicted of tampering with drug evidence in 2013 and served three years in prison.