More charges are filed for a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab supervisor, who’s accused of stealing prescription drugs being held for evidence.
Joseph Graves did not appear before Circuit Judge Jan Shackelford for the arraignment on Thursday morning. He now faces an additional 32 counts of trafficking in illegal drugs.
Graves, who was free on bond after his first arrest in February, was taken back into custody in Panama City last month, when the new charges were filed. State Attorney Bill Eddins says that arrest was for the new charges, with a new bond of just over $1 million set.
“As a result, it was determined that there were additional charges that should be placed, as a result of additional discrepancies that were discovered in several other counties throughout north Florida,” said Eddins.
The 33-year-old Graves was originally charged with grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking in illegal drugs. Prosecutors say he took the prescription drugs and replaced them with over-the-counter medications.
A docket hearing is scheduled for August 20, with a September 2 trial date. But drawing on experience from past cases, Eddins says it’s a safe bet that it could be several more months – and perhaps a year from now – when the case will actually make it to Judge Shackleford’s courtroom.
“The reason for that is that under Florida law, the defense attorney has the right to take depositions from all of the witnesses that were listed in the case,” Eddins said. “In this case there are witnesses from the following counties: Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton, Jackson, Bay, Sumter County, Pasco County, other counties as well.”
Graves reportedly has told authorities that he needed some of the prescription drugs – including the painkillers oxycodone, morphine and hydro-morphone -- for a chronic back problem. The case prompted FDLE to look at some major policy changes. Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in February that they would begin with employee drug testing.
“When an employee is hired by FDLE, we do a drug test then,” said Bailey. “After that, we do drug test for cause. We’re going to look at our policies, we’re going to look at the rules and regs that govern ongoing drug testing.”
State Attorney Bill Eddins, meanwhile, is now requiring his prosecutors to check evidence bags in all new drug cases -- to make sure that the drugs logged by arresting officers have not been tampered with or removed. Other state attorneys have implemented similar measures.