(Howie Carr, LifeZette) Maura Healey of Massachusetts is the very model of a modern Democrat state attorney general in the age of Trump – she filed her first lawsuit against the new president just three days after his inauguration.
According to her leading local media cheerleader, the Boston Globe, Healey has since “filed or joined” 11 lawsuits against the Republican administration and “signed another dozen legal briefs,” involving the usual Resistance hot buttons, among them the Muslim travel ban, Obamacare, environmental regulations, student loans and so forth.
In addition, after several widely publicized post-election “hate crimes” in the state by Trump supporters, all of which turned out to be hoaxes, Healey announced with great fanfare a “hate-crimes hot line,” in case the alleged victims couldn’t remember 9-1-1.
Healey has also attempted to unilaterally impose draconian new gun-control measures that Second Amendment advocates and some legislators on Beacon Hill argue are unconstitutional, and her end-runs around the legislature are now being challenged in court.
In short, Healey is following the same electoral model pioneered in California by Kamala Harris – grandstanding, showboating and tilting at legal windmills, all of which seem conducive to paving the path from attorney general to higher office, at least in deep-blue coastal states.
Life’s been good to Maura Healey, but last week her halo was jolted a bit by a state superior court judge who accused two former assistant attorneys general in her office of “intentional, repeated, prolonged and deceptive withholding of evidence from defendants, the court and local prosecutors… [conduct that was] egregious and harmful to the administration of justice.”
After the scathing 127-page decision last week, Healey’s office issued a statement saying there is “no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by attorneys in the AG’s office.”
So who is telling the truth – the likely next eventual governor of Massachusetts or Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey?
This controversy has grown out of the scandal of Sonja Farak, a former state chemist. Between 2004 and 2013, Farak was almost continuously working under the influence of drugs, usually crack cocaine but also heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD, at the state labs in Jamaica Plain and Amherst, where she handled tens of thousands of criminal drug analyses and HIV tests, including some for rape victims.
After her 10-year binge on stolen narcotics, Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to drug theft and tampering and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Now defendants in her drug cases are seeking to have their convictions overturned. Last week Judge Carey tossed seven of the convictions, ruling that conduct by the attorney general’s office during the investigation had sunk to “a depth of deceptiveness that constitutes a fraud upon the court.”
Who do you believe, the politician or the judge?
Let’s go to page 35 of the judge’s scathing 127-page decision. After Farak’s arrest in 2013, the Massachusetts State Police began investigating just how many criminal cases she had compromised. One of the MSP detectives, Sgt. Joseph Ballou, discovered that during a drug raid in 2012, the Springfield PD had confiscated 51 Oxycodones – the gold standard of prescription opioids.
The oxies were turned over to Farak for analysis, but she issued a certificate saying the pills were not illegal. When the Springfield police retrieved the pills from the drug-addicted chemist, they discovered that instead of returning the original 51 oxies, Farak had given them 61 pills with colors and markings different from the potent oxies.
Ballou emailed Asst. AG Anne Kaczmarek about the switch. According to the judge, “Kaczmarek dismissively replied in an email to Ballou, ‘Please don’t let this get more complicated than we thought. If she was suffering from back injury, maybe she took the oxies.'”
The judge continued: “When asked to explain that reply, Kaczmerak testified in December 2016 that she feared that if Farak’s drug tampering turned out to be more complicated than they had thought, ‘an avalanche of work’ would hit ‘us.'”
The judge’s ruling listed other unethical acts by Kaczmerak and another AAG, Kris Foster, whom the judge faulted for “lack of a moral compass.”
Most of the worst behavior by the attorney general’s office occurred during the tenure of Martha Coakley. But Healey has continued trying to keep the most damning details from public disclosure.
For example, in April 2016, Healey filed a “Motion to Impound Grand Jury Materials and Report” on the scandal involving her office.
Then Healey’s office filed a second motion to “impound its request for its Motion for Order of Non-Dissemination of Information.”
In other words, Healey wanted not only to seal the shocking evidence, but to also seal her request to impound the evidence against her office.
The Farak case includes any number of tricky local political angles for Healey. First of all, although she was not AG during the worst of the abuses, she did work in the office before her election, from 2007 to 2013.
During the investigation, the MSP discovered that Farak was under treatment for addiction, and that she kept “worksheets” detailing her drug use. But as Coakley campaigned for governor, her office adamantly refused to release the smoking-gun documents until nine days after Coakley was narrowly defeated by Charlie Baker in November 2014.
Under Healey, the AG’s office has continued what the judge described as “stonewalling.”
“Most recently and surprisingly, in 2017,” the judge wrote, “the AGO (attorney general’s office) denies having had any legal obligation to turn over the mental health worksheets to district attorneys because the AGO had not prosecuted the drug lab defendants. That position is at odds with the fundamental principles of fairness.”
Likely Democrat voters seem to have been disproportionately affected by Farak’s crimes, including Hispanic drug dealers as well as the tens of thousands of people who got AIDS tests at the Hinton lab in Jamaica Plain where Farak first worked, and for which she later continued performing various tests after her transfer to the now-shuttered Amherst lab.
Last month a local lawyer requested that the Department of Public Health (DPH) release the number of HIV tests performed during Farak’s employment at the state labs, which eventually might lead to demands that the thousands who were tested in that decade be notified that their HIV tests were possibly compromised.
Farak was apparently quite secretive about her drug use. Her wife, whom she married in 2005 after the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, told a state grand jury she only saw Farak use cocaine once.
According to the judge, Farak began by ingesting the lab’s drug “standards” – the pure samples against which confiscated narcotics are tested. After nearly exhausting the lab’s official supply, by 2009 she was turning to “police-submitted samples” to satisfy her desperate cravings.
With such a prodigious habit, Farak had to figure out a way to cover up how much she was stealing from the lab. When she was arrested in 2013, State Police discovered in her effects a special kit she used to create fake substitutes for the stolen contraband in all their varied colors and textures. Farak’s fake-drug kit, the judge wrote, included “a bar of soap with a razor blade, baking soda, candle wax, off-white flakes and oven-baked clay.”
Farak was represented in court by a now 62-year-old Northampton attorney named Elaine Pourinski. In at least one email, Kaczmerak refers to Pourinski as “the gym teacher.”
Farak was busted in January 2013. She had spent the morning testifying in a drug case in Springfield, then gone out to her car at lunch to smoke crack cocaine. As she returned to the court house, Farak was met by two State Police detectives, who took her to a conference room and began questioning her.
When the cops asked Farak why she had a crack pipe at her work station at the drug lab in Amherst, Farak answered, “I think I’m going to hold off talking and talk to my M.O.S.E.S. (union) representative, if that’s all right.”
In some ways, Farak was a typical dysfunctional Massachusetts state worker. On the rare occasions when she was not smoking crack cocaine in the lab, the judge wrote, “she experienced severe lethargy, irritability and the inability to focus and be productive, to the point where she would call in sick for work.”
No wonder her coworkers at the lab didn’t notice anything amiss until the very end. Farak was just behaving like the stereotypical hack state worker of Bay State lore.
Farak corresponded with her fellow drug-lab chemist Annie Dookhan, who also served a prison term for falsifying thousands of pieces of evidence at the Jamaica Plain lab.
Two weeks ago, a federal judge in Boston ordered Dookhan to pay $2 million to a 53-year-old Dorchester man who spent 15 months in prison after being convicted by a jury of selling a rock of crack cocaine to an undercover cop in Chinatown in 2008. The judge ruled that when Dookhan testified at trial that the rock had tested positive for cocaine, she had given “false testimony to convict an innocent man.” The “cocaine” was in fact a cashew. In an interview, Dookhan’s victim said, “I knew she was lying. Ain’t no way, no how a cashew can turn into cocaine.”
In his decision last week, Judge Carey pointed out the differences between the two felonious state chemists. While Dookhan had acted out of some twisted desire to assist prosecutors, he wrote, Farak had a different aim in working hard – “to know what the substances were in case she wanted to use them herself … Farak’s motive was simply to feed her own drug addiction.”
One defendant whose conviction was tossed last week was Rolando Penate, who served time for heroin distribution. Farak certified that she had tested Penate’s drugs on Jan. 9, 2012, the same day her “work sheet” showed she had smoked crack in the morning and then at lunch ingested LSD confiscated in a police drug raid.
“She later recalled,” Carey wrote, “that the sensation of colors in the wind left her unable to function well at work, to drive her car, or to attend therapy… She did not recall running any tests that day [but] Farak endorsed certificates of analysis, including in the Penate case.”
Penate was sentenced to five to seven years. Carey ruled that the attempts by Penate’s lawyer to obtain the evidence of Farak’s crimes against his client were met with “stonewalling” by assistant AG’s Kaczmerak and Foster – “misconduct so egregious… [that it] qualifies as a fraud upon the court.”
Healey now says she is only running for reelection, but some local Democrats believe that after her rabid anti-Trump stylings this year, she represents their party’s only hope of regaining the Corner Office in 2018.
And she has made all the right moves – when state legislators included her in their wildly unpopular 40 percent pay raises for themselves earlier this year, she wisely turned down her proposed $44,418 increase. Gov. Baker, her would-be opponent next year, and GOP Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, her more likely foe in 2022, also spurned the pay raises.
As for the former assistant AG’s who committed “fraud upon the court,” after a nationwide search Kris Foster was hired to a $94,000-a-year job in the office of Democrat state Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
And Kaczmerak, who dismissed the theft of 51 oxies and called the female defense attorney from Northampton “the gym teacher” — she is now on a different state payroll, as an assistant clerk magistrate in Boston.
In fact, under that same pay raise bill, Kaczmerak had her salary hiked on Saturday, from $107,638 to $111,563 a year. It was her second $3,925 salary increase in five months. And Kaczmerak will get two additional pay raises in the next year, raising her salary to $119,414 a year by next July.
On the payroll at the courthouse in Boston, Kaczmerak no longer has to worry about an “avalanche of work” ever coming her way.
Meanwhile, it has been more than 10 days now since Healey last filed a lawsuit against President Trump. But it is a holiday week.
Howie Carr is a syndicated radio talk show host in Boston. You can hear his show at howiecarrshow.com, and you can order his new book, “Kennedy Babylon: A Century of Scandal and Depravity, Vol. 1,” at Amazon.com.