Broward’s chief toxicologist suspected of tampering. Scores of cases could be affected.
The chief toxicologist at the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office is under criminal investigation by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which could have an effect on scores of cases in which he is listed as a witness, prosecutors confirmed Thursday.
Gary Kunsman, who has been with the Medical Examiner’s Office since 2013, is suspected of theft of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence, both considered “crimes of dishonesty” that can be used against him if he tries to testify against defendants .
While Kunsman has not been charged with or convicted of any crime, prosecutors are legally obligated to disclose the investigation to attorneys representing defendants in cases where Kunsman might be called as a witness.
“Our office is reviewing every case and will follow up appropriately,” said Broward State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Paula McMahon. “We are sending out what we call Brady notices in every case where he is listed as a witness.”
Prosecutors learned of the investigation a week ago. While the State Attorney’s Office could not confirm the number of affected cases, the Broward Public Defender’s Office said it is defending clients in 94 cases in which Kunsman is a witness. That number does not include cases in which the defendant is represented by a private lawyer.
Lawyers rely on toxicology reports from the ME’s office to determine whether victims or defendants were under the influence of controlled substances when crimes were committed or when people died under suspicious circumstances . The office assists with DUI investigations, sexual battery cases and cases involving poisoning or exposure to chemicals.
The Public Defender’s Office said Kunsman had been listed as a potential witness in 74 cases that closed between 2019 and 2021. It is common for witnesses to be listed on cases but never called to testify.
“We’re going to have to sift through and determine what were the allegations [against Kunsman] and what was his role in those cases of our clients,” said Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes. “If the crime he committed is theft, that’s a crime of dishonesty, and that calls his integrity and credibility into question as a witness.”
A representative for the Medical Examiner’s Office declined to comment Friday. Kunsman is on administrative leave during the investigation.
Most questions about the investigation remained unanswered Friday, including who was the victim of the theft, what controlled substances were allegedly stolen, and what cases were affected by alleged tampering.
The Medical Examiner’s Office does store some evidence there, which explains how Kunsman could have had access to it. Kunsman was not involved in every case, and there are other toxicologists qualified to testify in cases, a spokewoman said in an email.
“We need to know immediately the full extent of this investigation,” said defense lawyer Bill Gelin. “Tampering has serious implications for the accused in all cases, especially in the most serious crimes. If we don’t know what this is about, egregious miscarriages of justice can occur.”