• Gov. Patrick: oversight is not the issue with 2nd chemist arrest


    (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – The latest case against Massachusetts lab chemist Sonja Farak is raising more questions regarding oversight.

    Gov. Deval Patrick did not specifically say whether or not he thought more oversight was needed at the state level.

    "What we have is a bad actor, and the people around that bad actor brought those bad actions to the right attention and promptly, and that is a good thing for the whole of the Commonwealth," Gov. Patrick said Tuesday.

    In the past, Gov. Patrick described Annie Dookhan as a "rogue chemist." She is accused of tampering with evidence and faking test results.

    Neither case is connected to the other, but it raises questions about a larger issue of oversight.

    Republican Sen. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr told FOX 25 on Sunday that a bill has been created that would set up a five member oversight panel, mandate quarterly reporting of the volume of cases, set up a hotline, and require every lab be accredited.

    "When it happened the last time, we all said this can never be allowed to happen again. Actions were taken, and we hoped that they wouldn't happen again. But now they have, and I think it requires even more than we had required before the need for oversight which our bill is proposing," Tarr said.

    Gov. Patrick says he doesn't believe oversight is the issue.

    "I don't think the oversight in Amherst really can fairly be questioned since it was the people doing the oversight who dealt with it and dealt with it promptly," Gov. Patrick said. "When you're dealing with human beings sometimes you're going to get a bad actor."

    After the Dookhan case, drug lab operations were transferred to the state police, and the governor appointed a lawyer to lead the central office in reviewing the thousands of criminal cases that are being thrown into question.

    As for the lab in Amherst, it has been shut down for now. Chemists have been moved to another facility while a complete inventory and review of the cases pending takes place.

    In the wake of the latest case, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association has sent out a statement urging the governor and lawmakers to give prosecutors the resources they need to ensure proper functioning of the state's criminal justice system adding they're concerned about possible budget cuts.

    On Tuesday, Gov. Patrick said they will be refiling a request for supplemental funding to help deal with the fallout and that he's confident the legislative leadership understands the pressing need to get a resolution soon.

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