TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey announced that FDLE has begun a review of all cases processed by a chemist in FDLE’s Pensacola Regional Crime Laboratory.
Last week, in conjunction with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney William Eddins’ Office, FDLE began an investigation into missing prescription pain pills from the evidence room at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The missing drugs had been replaced with over-the-counter medications.
On Thursday Jan. 30, investigators determined that each case with missing drugs had been analyzed by one Pensacola chemist. FDLE Office of Executive Investigations has opened a criminal investigation and the chemist has been relieved of duty.
FDLE is reviewing evidence from all cases handled by this chemist between 2006 and present.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott says there is more than one hundred cases affected in Sothwest Florida. HE says the FDLE told him there is 47 cases in Lee County, 49 in Collier County and 25 from the Fort Myers Police Department.
Sheriff Scott says the cases at LCSO are from 2007. He says, "at that time the lab here in Fort Myers was under staffed with chemists so they were sending some of the evidence away and our evidence was being sent of coarse to the branch where this fellow was working."
Sheriff Scott says the good news is that no recent cases have been sent to that particular lab.
But either way Defense attorney Scott Moorey says this investigation will have an impact on all cases past, present and future. "The ramifications of this are gong to be a number of cases probably will have to be dismissed depending on whether or not it will back up the system" says Moorey.
He also says this will cost the state a lot of money to go back and investigate each and every case this chemist was involved in.
Each regional Special Agent in Charge is contacting local law enforcement leaders and state attorneys so that they may take appropriate action regarding pending cases.
Beginning Monday, FDLE teams will be deployed to impacted agencies to inspect all evidence handled by the chemist to confirm cases potentially compromised. The chemist worked nearly 2,600 cases for 80 law enforcement agencies spanning 35 counties and 12 judicial circuits. Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, and Lee Counties are on the list of counties affected.