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Pensacola chemist suspected of stealing pills

Today the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will start looking into hundreds of cases handled by a Pensacola chemist suspected of stealing evidence.

The investigation began after Escambia County deputies noticed prescription pain pills were missing from its evidence room. Investigators then found dozens of cases where prescription pills had been replaced with over-the-counter pills. The FDLE says each case involving missing pills was handled by the same chemist.

That chemist has handled nearly 2,600 cases from across the state since 2006. The department is sending investigation teams to 35 counties -- to inspect evidence in those cases. Those counties include Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa.

"We're going back and looking at each case that was worked and we're going to the evidence rooms of sheriff's departments and police departments around the state, and actually looking at the prescription medications to see if that particular package is in fact a prescription and not an over-the-counter calcium tablet."

And we wanted to know how Sheriff Morgan's deputies discovered the missing evidence. When we spoke with Sheriff Morgan, he told us deputies were going through a routine process -- getting rid of old evidence -- when they realized something was wrong.

FDLE Commissioner, Gerald Bailey says that depending on what investigators find -- it's possible that drug charges in those cases could be dropped -- and prisoners could be released.

So far the chemist has not been charged with any crime. He has been relieved of all his duties and is now on paid leave. FDLE says he will be fired immediately if it's confirmed he stole the prescription pills.

"Our evidence technicians were going through that process when they discovered some envelopes that had been tampered with. And the further investigation showed that some of the evidence was missing. And so we immediately launched and internal investigation. We notified our criminal investigative division. We also contacted the state attorneys office and the Florida department of law enforcement because it involved narcotics."

We are keeping a close eye on this developing story -- and will continue to bring you new information as soon as we get it.