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Detectives clear Broward’s chief toxicologist of public corruption; prosecutors decide not to charge him over marijuana in his office

In July, Broward County public defenders were concerned about accusations against the chief toxicologist at the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office. On Wednesday, prosecutors announced detectives didn't find any evidence of public corruption and they won't be filing any charges against him.
In July, Broward County public defenders were concerned about accusations against the chief toxicologist at the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office. On Wednesday, prosecutors announced detectives didn't find any evidence of public corruption and they won't be filing any charges against him. (Google Maps Streetview)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An investigation cleared the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office chief toxicologist of suspicion that he had stolen drugs from his workplace, but the Broward State Attorney’s Office closeout memo released on Wednesday reveals detectives found empty alcohol bottles and marijuana in his office.

Detectives Mirelle Pulashaj, Richard Olson, and Earl Scott, of the public corruption unit, searched Gary Kunsman’s “cluttered” office in July at the Medical Examiner’s Office. They reported finding empty liquor bottles and 13 grams of marijuana, including .08 grams in a burnt cigarette, according to the memo.

The finding was under the misdemeanor threshold of fewer than 20 grams. Also, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor started to implement a new policy on Feb. 2 to no longer prosecute cases related to only possession of misdemeanor cannabis.

According to the closeout memo by Assistant State Attorney Chris Killoran, the investigation into Kunsman started after the Fort Lauderdale Police Department received an anonymous tip on July 19th about a meth lab in room 131 of the Residence Inn, at 2880 Center Port Circ., in Pompano Beach. Fort Lauderdale officers sent the tip to BSO and detectives started to investigate on July 20th.

The guests of room 131 were Kunsman and his wife, deputies said. They left the room on July 21st, and detectives conducted a traffic stop. Detective Justin Eramo’s deputy dog Oscar searched Kunsman’s car and found two small plastic tubes with a white powder in the glove compartment and in a storage compartment under the steering wheel, according to the memo.

A field test identified the powder as positive for MDMA, a drug used for recreational purposes, deputies said. But on Aug. 4th, the crime lab reported one of the tubes found in Kunsman’s car “had no detectable substance” and the other tube tested positive for Butalbital, an ingredient in one of Kunsman’s prescribed medications to deal with migraines, according to the memo.

While BSO detectives questioned Kunsman after the traffic stop, he said the tubes were used to store “drugs from death scenes” and added he had failed to stick the tubes in “a bag with a case number,” according to the memo.

“I normally don’t have drug tubes with me ... I must have just inadvertently stuck it in my pocket ... it is my own stupidity ... I don’t take MDMA ... the crime lab won’t test drug evidence from a death scene, that comes into my lab ... I tested a counterfeit oxycodone tablet and it had MDMA ... I usually do those tests on the weekends ... it should have never left the lab ... I clearly exercised bad judgment,” Kunsman told detectives, according to the memo.

Kunsman said he didn’t know who submitted the anonymous tip to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

“I offend a lot of people ... I tend to not keep my opinions a closely guarded secret,” Kunsman said, according to the memo.

On July 21st, detectives released Kunsman without arresting him. After the investigation into public corruption, detectives didn’t find any evidence that he had stolen drugs from the Medical Examiner’s Office or tampered with evidence, according to the memo.

In July, Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes said he feared the case was a threat to “any number of cases” because it called into question Kunsman’s integrity as a witness.

“Anyone who has concerns about any case should contact our office and we will review them on a case-by-case basis,” Pryor said in a statement on Wednesday.

Related story: Medical Examiner’s Office chief toxicologist faces criminal probe with potential legal ramifications in years of cases

Read the closeout memo


About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.