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FDLE Drug Tampering Case Yr Ender

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FDLE
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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement in February began the examination of alleged evidence tampering by a former employee in its Pensacola crime lab. The case focused on Joseph Graves -- who resigned as the lab’s analyst supervisor.

Graves’ resignation came in the wake of allegations that he may have tampered with evidence from the cases. He was suspended with pay.

The evidence involved was from 80 law enforcement agencies in the 35 counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa. The reach was as far south as Monroe County.

The drugs were discovered missing from the evidence room at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in mid-January. FDLE got involved after being contacted by Sheriff David Morgan and Bill Eddins, the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit.

The FDLE lab on North Palafox Street handles about 400 cases per month, including fingerprint analysis and toxicology results. It was believed that around 100 cases were potentially compromised by Graves. Eddins said his office would have to analyze each drug case on their own specific facts and circumstances.

Graves was arrested on charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and nine counts of trafficking illegal drugs. Investigators believe Graves replaced prescription pain pills with over-the-counter medications while processing drug cases.

FDLE Chief Gerald Bailey said Graves had “lawyered up” prior to his arrest, and did not cooperate with authorities. In June, a grand jury indicted Graves on a fresh set of charges -- 32 counts of drug trafficking. Graves had been taken back into custody in Panama City in May, and moved to the Escambia County Jail on a bond of just over one million dollars.

Drawing on past-case experience, Eddins said it’s a safe bet that it could be several more months – and perhaps a year or so – when the case will actually make it to Circuit Judge Jan Shackleford’s courtroom.

Eddins directed his prosecutors to check evidence bags in all new drug cases -- to make sure that the drugs logged by arresting officers had not been tampered with or removed. Other state attorneys have implemented similar measures.