Major Florida Crime Case: Lab Tech Arrested, Accused of Grand Theft and Selling Drug Evidence

February 17, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

On February 4, authorities arrested Joseph Graves, a lab chemist at a Florida criminal lab, and hit him with a suite of serious charges, including grand theft, drug trafficking (9 counts), and tampering with evidence (12 counts).

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) says that Graves stole drug evidence from his lab, then sold it. FDLE Commissioner, Gerald Bailey, remarked that “the actions of Joseph Graves are disgraceful.” A judge set his bail at $290,000, and he's being held at the Escambia County Jail. Authorities may hit him with additional charges.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesperson told the media that Graves had worked for 80 different law enforcement law agencies across Florida (35 counties) and had been involved in 2,600 cases over the past eight years. Authorities believe that Graves’ crime could, according to CNN, “affect… drug convictions in dozens of Florida counties.”

What exactly happened? And what are the implications for defendants in those cases?

Investigators discovered pain pill bottles in the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office evidence room. Over-the-counter meds had replaced missing pain pills. Investigators analyzed the situation and concluded that Graves had tampered with evidence. Florida police now must scrutinize literally thousands of drug cases; hundreds of convictions could be tossed across the state. At a press conference, Gerald Bailey admitted: “this has the potential of impacting hundreds of drug cases across our state … this is a total shock and a disappointment."

The allegations against Graves are not unprecedented. The Christian Science Monitor reported on a similar case in Boston recently. That case led to the release of 350 people from jail in Massachusetts. Per the CSM: “Massachusetts chemist, Annie Dookhan – portrayed in court as an ambitious young woman whose zeal to get ahead let her to produce bogus test results to help win convictions -- had processed more than 40,000 drug cases, putting the outcomes of all of them in doubt.”

This story powerfully illustrates how important it is to investigate your Florida criminal charges aggressively. You must make sure that evidentiary tampering, mechanical errors, other mishaps will not lead to an extravagant prison sentence for no good reason. Connect with the team here at David Seltzer P.A. at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) immediately for help constructing an articulate, strategic defense against any charges you may face.