Joseph Graves – Joey to his friends – was an important man in Florida law enforcement.
Since 2006, the well-respected Graves had handled evidence for some 2600 cases in 35 counties in his role as a supervisor at the state crime lab in Pensacola, and his analysis and testimony resulted in many convictions.
So colleagues of the 32-year-old were shocked by his arrest.
At the lab, Graves was in charge of testing suspected drugs and preparing certificates for criminal cases. But in January 2014, detectives went there to examine 147 OxyContin pills that were being held as evidence.
They found only 47 pills – and they were of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. A
fter further discrepancies were uncovered, Graves was arrested on February 4, 2014, and charged with 22 felonies, including grand theft and drug trafficking, mostly of OxyContin and morphine. He’d allegedly been stealing narcotics with the intent to use and sell. He was freed after posting bail.
In May, based on an additional examination of his work, he was rearrested and charged with another 41 counts of trafficking illegal drugs. (He has pleaded not guilty.)
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is now mired in an investigation of the thousands of cases that Graves handled.
Defence lawyers, arguing that their clients’ trials were compromised by his work, have been issuing appeals.
“Because of this breach, we have a lot of work to do to restore the confidence of our colleagues and of the Florida public,” said then FDLE commissioner Gerald Bailey at a news conference.