LARGO — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired a forensic science specialist April 4 for reportedly falsifying forensic documentation.

According to a media release, the sheriff’s Administrative Review Board conducted an investigation and found that Shantele Dixon, 35, had committed violations. Dixon was hired Oct. 19, 2011.

Investigators with the sheriff’s Administrative Investigative Division say the first violation occurred in November 2021 when Dixon was assigned two processing requests for two separate criminal cases. The requests consisted of retrieving evidentiary items from the Property and Evidence Division, maintaining an accurate chain of custody, completing evidence processing, and documenting the actions taken in logs, notebooks, and the agency’s report writing system.

Investigators say Dixon retrieved two evidentiary items Nov. 29, 2021, and gave them to another specialist to complete the processing requests. However, they say she failed to transfer custody to the other specialist knowing she would be leaving for the day, due to her shift ending.

The other specialist processed one item using the cyanoacrylate (superglue) fuming chamber and M-star, a luminescence dye stain chemical. The second item was processed using the cyanoacrylate fuming chamber and black magnetic powder. Both items, along with the processing request and notes on the processing methods used, were placed in Dixon’s secure locker at the Forensic Science Division by the other specialist.

Dixon reviewed the items and processing notes on Dec. 2, 2021. Investigators say Dixon reprocessed one item using black magnetic power, which resulted in no visible ridge detail and reprocessed the second item using M-star, which resulted in visible ridge detail. They also say Dixon falsely documented in her notebook that she used M-star and an alternative light source on the item that was processed using only black magnetic powder. In addition, Dixon failed to note that the other specialist completed some of the processing listed in her notebook.

Investigators say Dixon intentionally and knowingly falsified the narratives in the report writing system, stating that she used the cyanoacrylate fuming chamber on Nov. 29, 2021, when the other specialist conducted this step in the processing sequence.

According to investigators, Dixon also intentionally and knowingly falsified the narratives by omitting that one item was processed with M-star and the other item was processed with black magnetic powder on the same date. On one of the narratives, Dixon intentionally and knowingly falsified the narrative, stating the item was processed with M-star and an alternative light source was used, which investigators say was a lie.

Dixon reportedly admitted to omitting and falsifying her actions and the actions of the other specialist in her official supplement reports and notebook, and did not maintain the chain of custody, which is a violation of both agency policy and procedure and accreditation standards. Investigators say she also admitted that the falsification of the reports could have a negative impact on criminal charges being successfully prosecuted, advising she was "cutting corners."