San Francisco prosecutors said on Thursday a former city lab tech, who police arrested in Utah for allegedly driving with an evidence bag of methamphetamine and pills, will be charged in California as well.
The suspect, 40-year-old Justin Volkd, was a veteran forensic lab analyst at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office. He was then fired last year and is now being charged with theft and possession of stolen property. Authorities said the suspect surrendered himself to police on Thursday morning.
Many questioned the Medical Examiner’s Office’s security and quality standards after Volk’s arrest in August. Prosecutors were forced to review thousands of cases to determine if the suspect has previously conducted similar crimes.
“When we first learned of Mr. Volk’s misconduct, my office worked quickly to review all convictions in cases in which he was involved. In addition to ensuring conviction integrity, we are now seeking to hold Mr. Volk accountable for violating the trust the public places in those who handle evidence related to criminal cases,” San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said.
Legal experts said Volk stole drug evidence during his time at the Medical Examiner’s Office. They also believe he kept the stolen property in his possession between June 14 and August 31, where he was arrested in Ivins, Utah.
Police said Volk was initially stopped for a speeding violation. However, officers later discovered an evidence bag inside a piece of luggage after searching the vehicle. They found a “large crystal-looking item” and several small bags containing a crystallized substance and white powder substance. Authorities also found a bottle with 14 pills later determined to be acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
Prosecutors said the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office marked and labeled the evidence bag in Volk’s possession. They said the suspect had “unrestricted access to the evidence room of the agency. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office later conducted an investigation that determined the contents of the small bags to be methamphetamine.
In November, prosecutors revealed a list that showed more than 800 cases Volk worked on during his time with the Medical Examiner’s Office. The circumstances caused further criticism of the agency and its security.
A District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said cases that Volk may have been involved with were being reviewed by prosecutors. They later shared the information they gathered with defense attorneys working on the case, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Authorities said the Medical Examiner’s Office failed to ensure “proper handling, tracking, and documentation of drug evidence” after Volk’s arrest. The California charges are additional cases against Volk who is already facing charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia in Utah.