Crime lab chemist charged in federal court with stealing alprazolam

The crime lab gets federal money, so stealing evidence from the lab is a federal crime.

June 25, 2018

A former chemist at the Allegheny County Crime Lab has been charged with stealing alprazolam, the active ingredient in Xanax, that had been seized as evidence in a federal drug investigation.

Matthew Ieraci, 28, of Baldwin Borough, was federally charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court with theft from a program receiving federal funds.

The crime lab gets federal money, so stealing evidence from the lab is a federal crime.

Mr. Ieraci had previously been charged in May with tampering with evidence and other state offenses related to the same conduct after an investigation by county police.

According to the federal complaint, a U.S. postal inspector submitted an unknown substance to the crime lab on Feb. 8, 2017, as part of a federal narcotics case, and Mr. Ieraci took custody of it. He analyzed it and determined it was alprazolam. Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 27, the complaint says, Mr. Ieraci removed quantities of the drug without telling anyone or recording what he was doing.

Federal prosecutors said he removed a total of 52.45 grams with a street value of at least $78,000.

No other details were available about the federal case, but according to the earlier state charges, Mr. Ieraci had tested positive for marijuana and alprazolam after displaying slurred speech and poor motor skills at the lab.

Security cameras from the lab on Feb. 15 and 16 showed him going into an evidence storage locker and handling the evidence, which he was not permitted to do. Testing determined the evidence was alprazolam.

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