San Francisco Forensic Lab Worker Charged With Evidence Theft

San Francisco prosecutors must review thousands of potentially tainted cases stemming from Volk’s alleged theft of evidence from the medical examiner’s office, where he worked. 

In this Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin speaks to reporters before his swearing-in ceremony in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A former forensic analyst with the San Francisco medical examiner’s office has been charged in connection with stealing methamphetamine, prosecutors announced Thursday.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Thursday that Justin Volk has been charged with misdemeanor theft and receipt of stolen property. 

Volk, 40, had been responsible for processing and storing of evidence collected at death scene investigations as part of his job. He was arrested back in August by authorities in Utah, who found evidence bags containing the drug in his vehicle. Volk purportedly had unrestricted access to the medical examiner’s evidence room.

“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,” Boudin said in a statement. 

Volk’s actions jeopardize thousands of law enforcement investigations. Last November, Boudin said Volk, who worked in the forensic lab for more than 13 years, had a hand in more than 2,500 investigations; including 500 deaths, 1,200 sexual-assaults, and 800 DUIs. Boudin’s office has published a list of cases that could possibly be affected.

“My office has acted with great urgency in responding to the allegations against Justin Volk, and we have prioritized working to review all convictions in cases in which he was involved,” Boudin said at the time. “Ensuring the integrity of our convictions is of the utmost importance, and for that reason, we are publishing this information as part of our commitment to integrity and transparency in the criminal legal system.”

Volk is accused of stealing evidence from the lab between June 14, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2020, conduct that came to light after a traffic stop in Utah, where sheriff’s deputies spotted narcotics in evidence bags labeled by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner while searching his car.

Boudin told the San Francisco Chronicle that his office is currently reviewing any case they prosecuted in which Volk played a role, and that Volk had testified in at least two dozen cases in the past eight years.

“This couldn’t have come at a worse time for our office,” he said in an interview with the Chronicle back in September.

Volk turned himself in Thursday morning. 

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