Joseph Graves, an FDLE lab chemist accused of swapping illegal drugs for over-the-counter medicines -- and jeopardizing possibly hundreds of prosecutions -- was arrested Tuesday. FDLE file photo.
A former Florida Department of Law Enforcement laboratory chemist accused of swapping illegal drugs for over-the-counter medicines -- and jeopardizing possibly hundreds of prosecutions -- was arrested Tuesday on multiple criminal charges.
Joseph Graves, who was ousted from the Pensacola FDLE lab late last week, faces charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with evidence or fabricating it, and nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs. His bail was set at $290,000.
When Escambia County sheriff's deputies reported missing evidence last week, the FDLE began an investigation. Investigators said each of the suspect cases was handled by Graves, a chemistry analyst hired in 2005 and promoted to a supervisory job in 2009. He was paid an annual salary of $59,000.
"The actions of Joseph Graves are disgraceful," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in announcing the arrest Tuesday. "FDLE is working with State Attorneys' Offices statewide to ensure he is held accountable for his actions."
State Attorney William Eddins of Pensacola will prosecute the case.
Bailey announced the investigation on Saturday and said evidence tampering could result in pending cases being thrown out of court and possibly some convicted pill dealers getting out of prison. FDLE agents, working with city and county police across the state, on Monday began a review of nearly 2,600 cases Graves handled for 80 different jurisdictions in 35 counties.
Reporter Bill Cotterell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.