Former Pinellas County Forensic Science Specialist fired for falsifying documents, PCSO says

A Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Specialist was fired Monday for falsifying forensic documents, a PCSO investigation revealed. 

The former Forensic Science Specialist admitted to leaving out and falsifying her actions and another specialist's actions in her official supplement reports and notebook for two processing requests on two criminal cases, according to PCSO. Specialist Shantele Dixon was assigned the two processing requests for two different criminal cases in November 2021, according to the Administrative Investigation Division.

The sheriff's office said she also didn't maintain the chain of custody, which is a violation of the agency's policy and procedure and accreditation standards. PCSO officials also said she admitted that falsifying the reports could negatively impact criminal charges being prosecuted, and said she was "cutting corners."

The requests included retrieving evidentiary items from the Property and Evidence Division, maintaining an accurate chain of custody, completing evidence processing, and documenting the actions taken in logs, notebooks, and the agency's report writing system. 

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Dixon got two evidentiary items from the Property and Evidence Division at PCSO on November 29, 2021. She gave both items to another specialist to complete the processing requests. According to PCSO, she failed to transfer custody to the other specialist knowing she would be leaving for the day. 

The other specialist processed both items, which were placed in Dixon's secure locker at the Forensic Science Division along with the processing request and notes on the processing methods used, according to officials. Dixon reviewed the items and processing notes and reprocessed both items. PCSO said she falsely documented in her notebook how the items were processed and didn't note the other specialist completed some processing listed in her notebook. 

After the investigation, the Administrative Review Board determined Dixon committed the violations, and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired Dixon. The investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff's office.