Thousands of pills, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, are missing from the Broward Office of the Medical Examiner in what the county inspector general described Monday as gross mismanagement.
Inspector General John W. Scott released a report Monday that details the mismanagement and employee misconduct in the handling and disposal of several thousand pills, many of which are classified as controlled substances.
The OIG investigation found that ME personnel openly derided the lack of professionalism at the ME, and even the newly-assigned Interim Chief Medical Examiner acknowledged that as recently as 2010, the manner in which medications were stored resembled a 'free for all,'" Scott said in a statement.
At least 3,600 pills, including over 2,100 oxycodone and over 150 hydrocodone pills, are unaccounted for and likely in an "illicit stream of commerce," Scott said.
He told NBC Miami that he cannot speculate where the pills are, but "one thing we do know – they’re no longer in the care of the Broward medical examiner."
The report says that "garbage bags full of medications" were left in the file room, where "high school and community college students, who were volunteer workers, were left unattended, with unfettered access to the medications."
Former Broward Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper, who retired in October, was blamed for the mismanagement by failing to ensure the medications entrusted to his care were properly secured, cataloged and destroyed.
Reached Monday, Perper said he didn't find out about the alleged mismanagement until after he left office. He said he is disappointed by the findings and added that closer attention should have been paid to the issue.
The report said, however, that "Dr. Perper acknowledged that during his 17-year tenure as chief medical examiner, neither he nor anyone on his staff ever conducted an inventory of the evidence room. He also acknowledged that 'there was never a chain-of-custody form' in use at the ME, since medications were only moved 'internally.'”
The Romanian-born doctor came to fame during the 2007 examination into the death of Anna Nicole Smith, who died after her lifeless body was found in a room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
ME Legal Investigator Supervisor Linda Krivjanik was also accused of mismanagement and was fired in December.
An email sent to Krivjanik for comment Monday was not immediately returned.
"She was a trusted employee who betrayed my trust," Perper said of Krivjanik.
Scott said a thorough review is being conducted to "rectify the shortcomings identified at the ME," which will be completed this month.