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Florida state chemist faces inquiry over evidence thefts

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Saturday that it is investigating 2,600 cases handled by a Pensacola-based agency chemist after discovering dozens of drug cases where prescription pain pills were swapped out with over-the-counter pills.

Department Commissioner Gerald Bailey said the chemist handled cases involving 80 law enforcement agencies from 35 counties since he was hired in 2006. Most, but not all, of the cases involved testing drug evidence, though it was not immediately clear how many cases might be compromised.

The situation was discovered after Escambia County investigators realized evidence was missing and later found other evidence packages where prescription pills had been substituted with nonprescription pills.

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