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Crime Lab custodian arrested after audit finds discrepancies

An internal audit of the evidence and property vault at the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory has led to an arrest. / MGN Online

An internal audit of the evidence and property vault at the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory has led to an arrest.

Valdosta police say after an initial audit showed discrepancies, a more in-depth audit was ordered.

As a result, an internal affairs and criminal investigation was opened, the District Attorney's Office along with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Other agencies that had use the facility were also notified.

A review of cases was held and investigators say that they have isolated the discrepancies to one employee and a specific type and number of cases. Those cases have been provided to the DA's office and it has been determined that there was no tampering of cases during analysis at the lab.

37-year-old Amber Nawolski, the evidence custodian at the lab, resigned from her job at the lab and pled guilty to felony possession of hydrocodone, felony forgery in the first degree and theft by taking of oxycodone.

“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. 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”, stated Chief Brian Childress.

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