Chemist pleads guilty to stealing drug evidence

State Attorney Bill Eddins announced that Joseph Graves, former Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) chemist charged with racketeering and other offenses, has pleaded guilty today and has been sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

The case was brought in 2014 after Escambia County Sheriff’s Office investigators discovered that drug evidence in cases worked by Graves had been removed and replaced with over-the-counter pills.

FDLE, together with State Attorney’s Office, conducted an extensive investigation of the case and found missing drug evidence in more than 90 cases worked by Graves.

The drug evidence had been seized in criminal cases and was submitted to the FDLE lab for testing by more than 15 different law enforcement agencies.

The missing drugs included opiates and benzodiazepines, controlled substances subject to abuse.

Court records show that Graves was being prescribed the same type of drugs submitted to the FDLE lab for testing, but had been limited by doctors in the amount and number of drugs he could obtain.

Graves, as the supervisor of the chemistry and evidence sections at FDLE lab, had access to drug evidence and authority to assign cases for testing.  According to investigators, Graves assigned himself drug cases containing the same type of drugs he was using and removed some or all of the drugs from the cases after testing them.

Assistant State Attorney Russell Edgar prosecuted the case.

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