FDLE chemist Joseph Graves, arrested for stealing drug evidence

11:49 AM, Feb 5, 2014   |    comments
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Escambia County, Florida-- A Florida Department of Law Enforcement chemist has resigned following allegations he swapped out prescription pain pills in a drug case for over-the-counter medication.

Joseph Graves, who worked for the agency as a crime lab analyst supervisor, submitted his letter of resignation on Monday afternoon. Tuesday evening, the FDLE announced he'd been arrested around 6:30 p.m. at the Escambia County Jail.

Graves was charged with grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs. He has since been released from jail on bond. 

The FDLE investigation launched in January when officials noticed prescription pain pills were missing from the jail's evidence room, and only from cases Graves had been assigned.  

Officials say the investigation continues, and they will inspect evidence from all cases handled by Graves' between 2006 and now- a total of 2,600 cases involving 80 law enforcement agencies form 35 counties.

See Also: FDLE pill breach could go beyond drug cases

"The actions of Joseph Graves are disgraceful. FDLE is working with State Attorneys' Offices statewide to ensure he is held accountable for his actions," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "I appreciate the hard work and dedication of our FDLE members who are working swiftly and diligently responding to this situation." 

It's not immediately clear how many of the 2,600 cases were compromised, but FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said it potentially means drug charges will have to be dropped and prisoners released if determined the chemist tampered with evidence.

Hernando County his among the affected counties and four of its cases are now in question. Hernando Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Michael Maurer previously told 10 News, "It is disheartening. FDLE is a top notch agency. Background checks are done. It's a big event."

Pasco County has roughly seven cases under review. However, Sheriff Chris Nocco says he does not want to comment on specifics while FDLE is investigating.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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