Local Attorneys React to FDLE Breach

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BAY COUNTY Florida State Attorneys began reviewing thousands of their old drug cases Monday.

They're trying to determine if they'll be effected by a Florida Department of Law Enforcement chemist suspected of stealing evidence since 2006.

Criminal Defense Attorney Waylon Graham deals with thousands of drug cases each year.

Criminal Defense Attorney Waylon Graham says, "My practice has gravitated more and more to drug cases because they're so prevalent in our society. I mean, if you look at the numbers coming into the courthouse, the numbers are overwhelming."

And that number could significantly increase this year, after the FDLE's announced Saturday morning there's a problem at it's Pensacola Crime Lab.

Escambia County Deputies uncovered the problem when they had difficulties finding drugs missing from an evidence locker.

Now an FDLE chemist is suspected of stealing drug evidence as far back as 2006, and replacing it with over the counter medications.

Graham adds, "From what I understand from very reliable sources is the individual in question who's accused of doing all of this is actually the supervisor of the entire chemistry department. Now if that turns out to be true that's going to be a disaster for the FDLE."

Eighty agencies in 35 different counties are now reviewing 2,600 case files.

The 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's office will be reviewing open cases first, then working backwards.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson says, "It's disappointing. Anytime that you have someone in law enforcement who engages in behavior that lets the rest of the law enforcement community down, it's discouraging. It kind of gives a black eye to everyone."

Graham says, "It's a huge deal because anything that this chemist was involved in is going to be suspicious, and it may mean that people that I have represented in the past, I may be able to go back and undo some of the damage that was done to them, because they may have been convicted or they may have pled based on false evidence."

It could mean hundreds of re-trials, costing hundreds of thousands of state dollars.

State officials say this will all play out in the next couple months.