Former medical examiner pleads guilty in Tenn.

NASHVILLE — Former Tennessee Medical Examiner Bruce Levy pleaded guilty in Nashville on Tuesday to official misconduct for taking marijuana from evidence lockers.

Levy, 50, was arrested in Ridgeland, Miss., in March 2010 after investigators found a package of pot with his name on it at a distribution center and more of the drug in his hotel room.

Levy also did coroner work in Mississippi, but after the arrest both states suspended contracts with his businesses. He also lost his job as Nashville’s coroner.

Assistant Davidson County District Attorney General Dina Shabayek said one of the bags of marijuana Levy had with him in Mississippi came from an evidence locker.

A subsequent audit by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found four more bags were missing from evidence lockers. Shabayek characterized all the bags as “small” although she did not know the exact weight of the missing drugs.

Regarding the source of the marijuana, Assistant Davidson County District Attorney General Dan Hamm said it had come from bodies that were taken to the medical examiner for autopsy but were not part of any criminal investigation. If they had been part of investigations, the bodies would have already been searched by law enforcement.

“The marijuana was being kept there and would have been destroyed,” Hamm said. If it had been evidence from a criminal case, that would have complicated Levy’s situation.

As it is, Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman on Tuesday sentenced Levy to three years of supervised probation. The sentence will run concurrently with a three-year probated sentence in Mississippi, stemming from the same incident.

As a condition of his probation, Levy will undergo drug testing. His record will be expunged in both states if he successfully completes probation.

After the hearing in Nashville, attorney David Raybin read a statement from Levy in which he said he was in recovery from his addiction.

“I apologize to the people of Tennessee,” he said. … “I am committed to a useful and productive medical career so that I will be able to continue to serve and help my fellow Tennesseans.”

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners recently placed Levy on probation but declined to revoke his medical license.

After the hearing, Hamm praised Levy’s work as a medical examiner.

“He brought a level of professionalism to that office that I hope people don’t forget about,” he said. “He was an exemplary witness and medical examiner.”

Raybin said in court that Levy had two upcoming trials in Mississippi where he needs to testify regarding autopsies he performed there.

After the hearing, Hamm said it would be up to the judges there to decide whether Levy’s arrest made his testimony unreliable. Hamm was not aware of any pending cases in Tennessee where Levy would need to testify.

“I don’t think it’s an issue,” he said.

Travis Loller/The Associated Press