John Lopez was hired by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office after being a wrestling standout in high school. Now, that same sheriff’s department that hired Lopez has fired him after accusing the man of selling and using steroids. Lopez has since been terminated by the PBSO. There is no indication whether or not Lopez will appeal the decision.
In June 2019, a woman told the PBSO that her coworker recently told her that Lopez sold him illegal steroids. The whistleblower identified Lopez as a former coworker and workout partner. Internal Affairs subsequently launched an investigation against Lopez, but that was stalled while a criminal investigation was being conducted.
According to police, an agent went through a trash can near Lopez’s home and discovered a discarded syringe with a substance that was positively identified as steroids. The agent determined (correctly) that this wasn’t enough evidence to charge Lopez with any crime. Thus, the internal affairs investigation was reopened.
Investigators then released a report stating that they asked Lopez for a urine sample that tested positive for certain prescription steroids that are often used by bodybuilders to add bulk quickly. Lopez was placed on administrative leave.
Lopez, in turn, provided investigators with evidence that he was procuring the substances through legal channels and that the substances could test positive for steroids but were not themselves steroids. Lopez produced three bottles that he claimed he had purchased over the counter. Lopez said he stopped taking the substances while he was on leave.
Will He be Charged?
Probably not. The evidence against Lopez is circumstantial and his father claimed that the syringe belonged to him. While circumstantial evidence could be used to convict someone, there simply isn’t enough of it to build a complicated case against the former PBSO employee. On the other hand, internal affairs investigations require a lower standard of proof to initiate a firing than you would find in a court of law. However, if Lopez can prove that the stuff he was taken indeed was available over the counter, then he may be able to get his job reinstated.
The problem, of course, is making a scientific argument against a police officer who would be charged with illegally possessing and selling anabolic steroids. The fact that they have no evidence of actual possession is a problem for their case. If they had this evidence, they may be inclined to file felony possession charges against Lopez.
Possession of anabolic steroids without a prescription is a third-degree felony in Florida and punishable by up to five years in prison, but Lopez would only likely face probation. So the PBSO will likely not bother to charge Lopez without the necessary evidence to do so.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Florida, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect you from over-prosecution, sloppy or illegal police work, and circumstantial speculation. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. to learn more about how we can help.