Former Allegheny County Drug Lab Employee Admits Stealing Drug Evidence
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to stealing federal drug evidence from the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner (ACOME), United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Matthew Ieraci, 29, was charged by criminal Information on June 20 with one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal benefits. He pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.
"When government employees tamper with and steal federal evidence, they not only abuse their position of trust, but they also undermine the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "This office will prosecute individuals who criminally undermine the integrity of the investigative process and the public’s confidence in our government institutions."
According to information presented at the guilty plea, on multiple occasions between on or about February 8, 2017, and on or about February 27, 2017, Ieraci stole a total of approximately 52.45 grams of powder alprazolam, a Schedule IV controlled substance, from ACOME, where he was employed as a laboratory scientist. Ieraci stole the evidence from a larger quantity of alprazolam that the United States Postal Inspection Service had submitted to ACOME for chemical analysis in connection with an ongoing multi-jurisdiction, multi-agency federal drug-trafficking investigation. Ieraci, the scientist assigned to analyze the evidence on behalf of ACOME, had received training in proper evidence-handling techniques and was aware of the consequences of evidence tampering, including the possibility that such evidence would not be admissible at trial.
Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for November 28, 2018. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorneys Eric G. Olshan and Rachael L. Dizard are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. This prosecution is part of the U.S. Attorney’s public corruption initiative.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation of Ieraci.