By John Clarke
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 20 (Reuters) - A former FBI agent used heroin seized in drug busts in the Washington, D.C., area for his personal use and tampered with evidence, resulting in the dismissal of several drug-trafficking cases, prosecutors said on Friday.
Matthew Lowry, 33, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was charged in the U.S. District for the District of Columbia with 20 counts of obstruction of justice, 18 counts of falsification of records, 13 counts of conversion of property, and 13 counts of possession of heroin, according to court documents.
Lowry's attorney, Robert Bonsib, said his client will plead guilty to all charges.
Lowry tampered with heroin evidence seized during several investigations in 2013 and 2014, often keeping the seized heroin in his car for personal use before returning it to the evidence locker after adding fillers to make up for the weight difference, according to prosecutors.
He is also accused of falsifying documents while removing seized heroin from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's evidence locker.
In a statement, Bonsib said in each of 20 incidents involving evidence tampering, Lowry removed small amounts of heroin from evidence packages to self-medicate a long-standing health problem known as ulcerative colitis.
The evidence-tampering resulted in judges dismissing cases against 24 defendants involved in large-scale drug trafficking investigations.
If convicted, Lowry faces at least seven years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $16 million.
The investigation into Lowry's behavior began after he was found unconscious in his unmarked FBI vehicle on Sept. 29 after overdosing on heroin. (Reporting by John Clarke; Editing by Leslie Adler)