Former Valdosta crime lab employee pleads guilty to stealing drugs from evidence

| November 16, 2016

amber-nawolski-37

VALDOSTA – A former evidence custodian has pleaded guilty to taking drugs from the Valdosta/Lowndes County Regional Crime Lab evidence vault.

On September 30, 2016, as part of its accreditation standards and police department and lab policies, the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory conducted an internal audit of their Property/Evidence Vault. The initial audit revealed several discrepancies, which resulted in a more in-depth audit. Once the discrepancies were found, Chief Brian Childress was notified and ordered the following immediate actions:

  • The initiation of an internal affairs investigation
  • Initiation of a criminal investigation
  • The notification of the District Attorney’s Office
  • The notification of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the accrediting bodies of the police department and crime laboratory
  • The notification of participating agencies of the crime laboratory
  • A review of cases to determine those which have discrepancies

crime-labAt this point, the Valdosta Police Department has isolated the discrepancies to one employee and a specific type and number of cases.

The police department has determined there was no tampering of cases during the analysis at the crime laboratory. A list of those cases with discrepancies have been provided to the District Attorney’s Office.

Last week Amber Nawolski, 37,  who has been employed with the Valdosta Police Department since August of 2007, resigned in lieu of termination while under criminal investigation.

Nawolski held the position of Evidence Custodian at the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Lab and today she pled guilty to Felony Possession of Hydrocodone, Felony Forgery in the First Degree, and Theft by Taking of Oxycodone and was booked into the Lowndes County Jail.

“Although I am deeply troubled by this matter, I am very proud of the men and women of the Valdosta Police Department who, using our own internal procedures, identified this issue and once found, reported it to me. This helped us isolate the issues and minimize further problems. We are treating this case like any other allegation and as we have demonstrated in the past, we hold our own employees accountable which includes any criminal and policy violations,” said VPD Chief Brian Childress.

“There is no evidence that any other law enforcement agency was involved in this matter and it appears the problem was internal to the crime laboratory and this one employee. All participating law enforcement agencies have been informed and were appreciative of the VPD’s transparency in making them aware of the situation. They have been understanding and cooperative.”

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3 Comments on "Former Valdosta crime lab employee pleads guilty to stealing drugs from evidence"

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  1. will says:

    It’s a powerful drug.

  2. JYh says:

    I appreciate Chief Childress’ transparency. It really does make a difference in terms of trusting law enforcement. Thank you!~