After two Massachusetts drug lab technicians who tested drugs for the state police and prosecutors were caught tampering and falsifying evidence, two prosecutors tried to minimize the damage and avoid the fallout. If it could be proved that the women mishandled evidence for years, then every person the state sent to prison on drug charges shouldn't be there.
Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, the force behind "I Love You, Now Die" and "Mommy Dead and Dearest," focused on misconduct on several levels for her newest docuseries “How to Fix a Drug Scandal." The docuseries, now streaming on Netflix, reveals how Massachusetts Attorney General’s office former attorneys Kris Foster and Anne Kaczmarek essentially allegedly tried to sweep drug technician misconduct under the rug.
Annie Dookhan was caught falsifying drug tests at Boston’s Hinton Drug Lab in 2012. She was dry labbing the confiscated drugs — meaning she wasn’t testing them at all — so she could be thought of as a prolific employee. Sonja Farak was caught in 2013 taking evidence drugs from the Morrill Science Center at UMass Amherst. She was replacing the stolen drugs with fake drugs to feed her personal drug habit while helping convict others of possession charges. While the two chemists were responsible for putting about 30,000 people behind bars for drug charges, the attorney’s office initially said there was no reason to believe that the affected defendants were wrongly convicted.
While Farak and Dookhan were arrested and prosecuted, the defendants they helped convict were never notified of drug technician misconduct. When relentless defense attorney Luke Ryan got wind of this, he made multiple requests to the attorney general’s office for documents, which Foster and Kaczmarek blocked. Kaczmarek also allegedly told a Massachusetts detective to bury information after he uncovered that Farak was using drugs as far back as 2005. Even though there was evidence that she had been getting high at work for years, the attorney general's office claimed it began only six months before she was arrested.
“Please don’t let this get more complicated than we thought,” Kaczmarek told that detective in 2013, according to the docuseries. “If she were suffering from back injury – maybe she took some oxys?”
Kaczmarek’s lawyer David Rich told Rolling Stone in 2018 that his client didn’t try to minimize the investigation. He said that suggestion is “belied by Anne’s actions in obtaining Farak’s conviction.”
Ryan told the producers of “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” that both Foster and Kaczmarek engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and that they refused to turn over exculpatory evidence (which is evidence that could be favorable to the defendant). He said they “took steps to keep this investigation very, very small” and noted that Foster wrongly told a judge in 2013 that all documents were disclosed in the Farak case.
She testified in 2016 that she told a judge that everything in that case had been turned over but said to the contrary “I have not reviewed one document in the Farak case.”
As a result, a Supreme Judicial Court decided in 2017 that both Foster and Kaczmarek committed "fraud upon the court,” the Boston Herald reported at the time. Current Attorney General Maura Healy maintained at the time that there was “no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by attorneys in the AG’s office.”
Furthermore, in 2017 over 20,000 of the convictions that were worked on by Dookhan were dismissed. In 2018, all of Farak’s cases were also dismissed. In all, about 35,000 criminal convictions were thrown out. It became the largest dismissal in American history.
Where are Foster and Kaczmarek now?
Both left the attorney’s office for other government posts, according to “How to Fix a Drug Scandal.” Foster is now working as general counsel for Massachusetts' alcoholic beverage commission, according to its site. She declined to comment when approached by Oxygen.com.
Kaczmarek was working as an assistant clerk magistrate for the Suffolk Superior Criminal Clerk’s Office until 2018, local outlet WBUR reported last year. It’s unclear if she is employed currently. Oxygen.com was unable to reach her for comment.
The Innocence Project asked the state Bar of Board Overseers to investigate Kaczmarek and Foster in 2017. Both were formally charged with ethics violations in 2019 and the board issued a petition for discipline against them which stated that they had violated rules "requiring honesty, diligence and fairness" by deliberately withholding evidence, the Washington Post reported last year.
"Tens of thousands of people were unfairly convicted, in part because prosecutors withheld crucial information," Matt Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said following their 2019 charges, WBUR reported.
While reprimanded by the supreme court for their role in the Farak case, neither has been sanctioned and both are still practicing lawyers. That could change. If disciplined for their actions, they could lose their license to practice.
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