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FDLE Believes Agency Chemist Stole Drug Evidence

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File photo of a cop car. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a cop car. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating 2,600 cases handled by an agency chemist after learning prescription pain pills in a drug case were swapped out with over-the-counter pills.

The department announced the investigation Saturday. Commissioner Gerald Bailey said the Pensacola-based chemist handled cases involving 80 law enforcement agencies from 35 counties since he was hired in 2006.

It’s not immediately clear how many cases have been compromised, but Bailey said it potentially means drug charges will have to be dropped and prisoners released if determined the chemist tampered with evidence.

The chemist is on paid leave while a criminal investigation continues. Bailey he said he hopes charges are brought quickly, at which point the chemist will be fired.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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