Crime lab of top Florida law enforcement agency under suspicion


300-JOSEPH-GRAVES-FDLEThe man who was employed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as a chemist in their Pensacola crime lab, and was accused on Friday of swapping illegal drugs for over-the-counter medicines, has been arrested according to an announcement from the state’s top law enforcement agency received by Historic City News.

Joseph Graves, who was paid an annual salary of $59,000, may have jeopardized hundreds of prosecutions where evidence was submitted to the Pensacola lab for analysis. The lab has processed suspected illegal substances for local law enforcement agencies in 80 different jurisdictions and 35 counties.

“The actions of Joseph Graves are disgraceful. The evidence tampering could result in pending cases being thrown out of court and possibly some convicted pill dealers getting out of prison.” FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in announcing the arrest Tuesday. “FDLE is working with State Attorneys statewide to ensure Graves is held accountable for his actions.”

As FDLE investigators begin to peel back the layers of this onion, they have already been able to establish criminal charges of grand theft, twelve-counts of tampering with evidence, or fabricating it, and, nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs, since Graves was ousted from the Pensacola FDLE lab late last week. His bail was set at $290,000.

According to FDLE Public Information Officer Gretl Plessinger, the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible. Monday morning, the Department began a review of nearly 2,600 cases handled by Graves.

FDLE became aware that something was not right after Escambia County sheriff’s deputies reported missing evidence last week. Each of the suspicious cases was handled by Graves; who was hired as a chemist in 2005, and later promoted to a supervisory job in 2009.

State Attorney William Eddins of Pensacola will prosecute the case.