Ex-FBI agent charged with 64 counts in drug tampering case

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A former FBI agent was charged Friday with 34 counts stemming from allegations that he tampered with substantial amounts of drug evidence, kept heroin seized during investigations in his car, and periodically took the drug.

Matthew Lowry, 33, will plead guilty to all the charges, his attorney said.

The accusations caused federal prosecutors to dismiss charges against at least 28 defendants in drug cases and notify 150 more that Lowry had participated in investigations targeting them, according to charging documents. In one case, charges were dropped against 14 defendants suspected to be involved with a large-scale drug-trafficking organization that was the subject of a major FBI investigation in California and the District.

The charges, including 38 counts of obstruction of justice and 13 of heroin possession, were filed against Lowry in federal court in Washington. He faces at least seven years in prison.

Lowry's attorney, Robert Bonsib, said in a statement that in each of 20 incidents involving evidence tampering, Lowry removed small amounts of heroin from evidence packages to self-medicate a long-standing health issue known as ulcerative colitis.

Bonsib said Lowry "recognizes the importance of taking full responsibility for each of his acts."

"Mr. Lowry is devastated by the consequences of his conduct, particularly as it has affected the drug investigations that he, his fellow law enforcement officers, and prosecutors had spent so much time developing and pursing," Bonsib said.

Bonsib said the investigation into Lowry began after he was found unconscious in his unmarked FBI vehicle on Sept. 29 after overdosing on heroin.

After that "turning point," Bonsib said, Lowry immediately tried to right his wrongs, meeting with federal prosecutors and investigators to help investigate his conduct. He has also sought treatment for addiction.

Lowry is married and has a 13-month-old son.

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