FDLE CHEMIST RESIGNS AMID INVESTIGATION

By  //  February 3, 2014

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UPDATE: February 3, 2014

 Joseph Graves, a Crime-Lab Analyst Supervisor In Pensacola Resigns Amid Investigation

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – A Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime-lab analyst resigned Monday, amid an investigation about whether he might have compromised hundreds of drug cases across the state.

Gerald Bailey

Gerald Bailey

A resignation letter released by FDLE identified the man as Joseph Graves, a crime-lab analyst supervisor in Pensacola.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey held a news conference Saturday to announce that the agency had started an investigation stemming from the discovery of missing prescription pain pills from the evidence room of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The missing drugs had been replaced with over-the-counter medications.

Bailey said that each case involving missing drugs had been analyzed by the same chemist, who overall had processed 2,600 cases for 80 law-enforcement agencies since 2006. At the time, Bailey did not name the man, who has not been charged. Graves did not give an explanation for his resignation in the brief letter Monday.

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued this release on Saturday:

“I applaud Commissioner Bailey and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their swift and direct response to this situation.

Pam Bondi

Pam Bondi

“What has allegedly happened here has potentially put at risk the extensive efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts in many of the cases handled by this analyst. Our battle against prescription drug abuse in Florida has been very successful over the last three years, and I will not tolerate any actions that compromise our continued success in ridding our state of this problem. I have directed my Office of Statewide Prosecution to assist the FDLE and State Attorneys in any way possible in this investigation and any resulting prosecution, as well as to assist any of our State Attorneys in addressing the impact on any criminal cases that could be affected. According to these serious allegations, this individual has allegedly violated a sacred position of trust as a law enforcement official, and should an arrest take place, I will demand the most severe penalty possible under Florida law.

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is a top notch law enforcement agency. I continue to have complete confidence in them and their work. This situation simply underlines the extent of the problem our country faces with prescription drug abuse. While this situation is very serious, it will not undermine FDLE’s dedication to stopping prescription drug abuse and our overall statewide efforts.”

ORIGINAL POST: February 1, 2014

Rogue Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chemist Could Have Compromised Hundreds Of Drug Cases

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – A chemist at a Pensacola crime lab could have compromised hundreds of state drug cases, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said today.

A chemist at a Pensacola crime lab could have compromised hundreds of state drug cases, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said today.

A chemist at a Pensacola crime lab could have compromised hundreds of state drug cases, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said today.

As a result, FDLE has begun a criminal investigation and a statewide review of all crime-laboratory drug evidence.

The investigation was triggered by the discovery that prescription pain pills had gone missing from the evidence room at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The missing drugs had been replaced with over-the-counter medications, prompting Escambia Sheriff David Morgan and State Attorney William Eddins of the 1st Judicial Circuit to call in FDLE.

Gerald Bailey

Gerald Bailey

On Thursday, Bailey said, investigators determined that each case involving missing drugs had been analyzed by the same chemist.

The chemist, who has been relieved of his duties but not charged, processed 2,600 cases for 80 law-enforcement agencies spanning 12 judicial circuits and 35 Florida counties since 2006.

The cases mostly affect counties in North and West Florida, but extend as far south as Monroe County.

Bailey said the motive was unclear.

“It could be personal use. It could be trafficking,” he said. “We don’t know.”

Beginning Monday, FDLE teams will be deployed to inspect all evidence handled by the chemist. Each regional special agent in charge is contacting local law-enforcement leaders and state attorneys regarding pending cases.

He said there was no indication the motive was to compromise any criminal cases, but that could be the effect.

FDLE TEAMS TO BE DEPLOYED TO INSPECT EVIDENCE

Beginning Monday, FDLE teams will be deployed to inspect all evidence handled by the chemist. Each regional special agent in charge is contacting local law-enforcement leaders and state attorneys regarding pending cases.

“We’re going to start from zero,” Bailey said.

In addition to the investigation, FDLE will review its laboratory protocols to prevent a recurrence. Bailey said FDLE currently administers a drug test upon hiring and, after that, “for cause.”

“We’re going to look at the rules and regs governing drug testing,” he said. “But again, we don’t know that this chemist was actually ingesting drugs.”

Pam Bondi

Pam Bondi

Bailey also said he had spoken with Attorney General Pam Bondi, who offered the services of the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

IDENTITY NOT YET RELEASED

The commissioner said he’d been advised not to release the name of the chemist, who is being compelled to use paid annual leave until his status is resolved.

“As soon as the state attorney sees that what is there is what we think is there, we are going to hurdle the bureaucratic obstacles and he will be terminated,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he was shocked by the discovery and wouldn’t have suspected the employee, who isn’t cooperating with the investigation.

“The chemist has lawyered up,” Bailey said.


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