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Florida crime lab analyst arrested on drug charges

TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida crime lab analyst was arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing and selling painkillers and other drugs that he was supposed to be testing as evidence in criminal cases, the state law enforcement agency said.

Joseph Graves was arrested a day after he resigned from his position at a Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab in Pensacola.

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The department began an investigation after the Escambia County Sheriff’s discovered drug evidence was missing. A further look found other cases where painkillers were swapped out with nonprescription drugs.

Law enforcement department commissioner Gerald Baily has said hundreds of drug cases may be compromised.

‘‘The actions of Joseph Graves are disgraceful. FDLE is working with State Attorneys’ Offices statewide to ensure he is held accountable for his actions,’’ Bailey said in a news release.

Graves’s attorney did not immediately return a message for comment

Graves began working for the department in 2006 and has handled about 2,600 cases, most of which are drug related. The compromised cases could possibly affect 80 law enforcement agencies in 35 counties that had cases worked on by Graves.

The department is using agents from each of its offices to review all the cases handled by the chemist and has contacted state attorneys and law enforcement agencies across the state that have pending cases that could be compromised.

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