Fmr. lab chemist charged with trafficking

Authorities said agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Escambia County Sheriff’s Office have arrested former FDLE Pensacola crime laboratory chemist Joseph Graves.

Graves is facing charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs.

Investigators believe Graves, while processing drug cases, replaced prescription pain pills with over the counter medications.

What he allegedly did with those, authorities aren’t saying.

Jail records shows Graves bonded out, so FOX 10 went to his listed address to try and find out from him. However, no one at the home would comment.

Graves was arrested at the Escambia County Jail Tuesday, February 4.

“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.”

In January the FDLE began an investigation into missing prescription pain pills from the evidence room at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators determined that each case with missing drugs had been analyzed by Graves.

FDLE officials say Graves was fired on January 31, 2014, and turned himself into authorities on Tuesday, February 4, 2013.

He became a crime lab analyst in December 2005, working in the Pensacola crime laboratory, and was promoted to supervisor in July 2009.

Investigators began looking into all cases, dating back to 2006, that Graves was involved in.

They say the primary drug involved in his charges appears to be oxycodone.

Investigators said FDLE teams are inspecting evidence in around 2,600 cases Graves worked for 80 law enforcement agencies spanning 35 counties and 12 judicial circuits. The potentially affected areas include local Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Nearly half of the cases that could be affected belong to State Attorney Bill Eddins.

However, Eddins says his office doesn’t believe the impact will be as dramatic as it could be.

“We do not believe any cases will be affected other than the ones where pills were switched out. Even in those cases, we may be able to prosecute those using other circumstantial evidence. While it’s dramatic and significant, it won’t involve every case he has ever touched,” Eddins said.

Officials said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

Arrest records show that Graves has been released on $290,000 bond.

“His actions are reprehensible and do not reflect FDLE members. We’re working to get this situation under control,” said Samantha Andrews with the FDLE.

Authorities say the charges Graves is currently facing could bring a mandatory 25 years in prison and more charges could be coming.

 

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