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Crime Lab Analyst Faces Additional Charges

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A former state crime lab analyst accused of stealing narcotics from evidence bags and replacing them with over-the-counter medicine was rearrested Wednesday on additional charges.

Joseph Graves was arrested in Panama City and charged with an additional 41 counts of trafficking in illegal drugs, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release.

The former chemist for the department was originally arrested in February on charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs.

Graves had been free on $290,000 bond, but his new bond is set at more than $1 million. He was being held at the Bay County Jail in Panama City, but will be tried in Pensacola, the department said.

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office, the State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating the disappearance of prescription pain pills from the sheriff's office evidence room in January. Investigators determined that each case linked with missing drugs had been analyzed by Graves, who was relieved of duty on Jan. 31. He resigned before his arrest.

State attorneys throughout Florida have said it remains unclear how many cases will be dropped because of Graves' alleged thefts. Evidence seized by 80 law enforcement agencies in 35 of Florida's 67 counties may have been compromised. A panel tasked by the law enforcement department to review crime lab procedures has recommended changes to prevent similar thefts in the future.

A telephone message left with Graves' attorney wasn't immediately returned.