SANDESTIN -- The chemist suspected of stealing evidence in drug cases, and replacing the painkillers with over the counter medications, is now facing charges.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials and Escambia County sheriff's investigators arrested Joseph Graves this evening, just hours after he resign his position with the FDLE crime lab in Pensacola.
Graves arrest is just one part of an FDLE investigation.
Graves surrendered himself to authorities in Pensacola around 5:30 Tuesday evening. He's charged with 12 counts of tampering the evidence and nine counts of trafficking illegal drugs.
Authorities say graves was stealing painkillers from the evidence locker, and replacing them with over the counter medications.
"When we discovered the second and third case that had missing evidence we started an open and full criminal investigation and of course that led eventually to the arrest of today of Joseph Graves,” said Escambia Co. Sheriff David Morgan.
Not only was graves the primary chemist on 2,600 drug cases since 2006, he was also the supervisor of the FDLE’s lab in Pensacola.
Authorities in 35 counties are now reviewing every single one of his case to see if they'll have to retry the defendants. The news of graves' arrest came as most of the state's sheriffs were at the Sandestin Golf and Beach resort for the Florida Sheriff's Association Winter Conference.
FL Sheriff's Assoc. President Grady Judd said, "The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is an outstanding law enforcement agency. That's one person who did something terribly wrong and I can assure you that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the criminal justice system will absolutely hold him responsible for his transgressions."
It also comes as Governor Rick Scott announced his plans to give the FDLE a 6% budget increase.
"One of the most important things in the budget this year is training dollars for law enforcement. We're increasing the training dollars now so they can better train all the law enforcement in the state,” said Rick Scott (R) Governor.
Gov. Scott went on to say he has complete confidence in the FDLE.
A judge has already set Graves' bond at $29,000. Investigators say there could be more charges.