The Medical Examiner's Office van on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Former lab worker arrested with evidence bag faces theft charges

A former lab worker for the Medical Examiner’s Office who was arrested with an evidence bag of suspected methamphetamine while driving in Utah last summer surrendered to authorities in San Francisco on Thursday on newly filed theft charges.

The arrest of Justin Volk last August spurred a wide-sweeping review of cases by the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether the former forensic laboratory analyst had tainted any criminal cases during his 13 years processing evidence.

Volk, 40, is now facing two misdemeanor charges after prosecutors determined the methamphetamine found during his arrest was collected by the Medical Examiner’s Office during a death investigation and stolen from the office’s evidence room.

“When we first learned of Mr. Volk’s misconduct, my office worked quickly to review all convictions in cases in which he was involved,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a statement. “In addition to ensuring conviction integrity, we are now seeking to hold Mr. Volk accountable for violating the trust the public places in those who handle evidence related to criminal cases.”

Volk is charged with theft and receipt of stolen property. Prosecutors allege he had the stolen goods from June 14 until his arrest on Aug. 31, 2020.

It was not immediately clear if Volk has secured an attorney.

Last November, the District Attorney’s Office published a list of hundreds of cases dating back to 2009 that Volk played a role in to help individuals determine whether their prosecutions may have been impacted by misconduct.

Prosecutors say they are continuing to review cases and are disclosing any relevant information uncovered to defense attorneys.

Volk’s arrest also triggered an audit by the Controller’s Office of the Medical Examiner’s Office drug inventory that found two drug evidence bags were missing, while the seals on another 10 bags were broken.

The audit did not come to a conclusion as to how the drugs went missing.

Jail records show Volk remained in custody at County Jail as of Thursday evening.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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