• Mass. officials under fire for second chemist arrest


    As Gov. Deval Patrick heads into the final two years of his final term, there are questions about how yet another drug lab scandal could potentially taint his future political ambitions.

    The case involving Sonja Farak, another chemist at the center of the latest drug lab scandal, is raising more questions about oversight and whether or not Gov. Patrick should take further action.

    "This might call for a good housecleaning," said Thomas Whalen, a political historian at Boston University told FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti. "Gov. Patrick might do it given the right circumstances politically."

    Whalen went on to say, "There should be strong protocols in place and Gov. Patrick has said that the buck stops with him, and unfortunately for him in this case, it doesn't look good for him"

    After it was revealed chemist Annie Dookhan had allegedly been tampering with evidence, throwing then of thousands of cases into question. The governor had a lab supervisor fire and two others resigned. Drug lab operations were transferred to the state police, and a lawyer was put in charge of central office to work the agencies and people affected by Dookhan.

    Whalen says Gov. Patrick could do more, especially if considering his political future.

    "He is not exactly shy about political ambition, I'm sure he's thinking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the future, and the whole idea is he's been a can-do popular governor in Massachusetts, but with these kinds of scandals, it undermines that credibility as a leader and as a potential president."

    The new charges raise concerns about what effect this latest case could have on criminal cases involving evidence handled by this chemist.

    During her news conference, Attorney General Martha Coakley downplayed concerns about that, adding the investigation has shown so far that the activities did not taint any other cases.

    The governor's office released a statement on Sunday that said in part, "Since its transfer to the state police last July, the lab was subject to and passed numerous state and federal audits. As the attorney general said earlier today, at this point the allegations against this chemist do not call into question testing reliability or fairness to defendants."

    On Sunday, Gov. Patrick was in Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama's inauguration. His office says he is aware of the situation and has been briefed on it.

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