A former Edwardsburg police officer was sentenced Friday for stealing prescription pain pills from a Cass County home while he was on duty.
24-year-old Jesse Holmes was sentenced to two years of probation, 300 hours of community service and a $500 fine for taking a bottle of hydrocodone pills from an Eagle Lake residence he was called to in the early morning of Dec. 25.
Holmes was called to assist in a medical 9-11 call at the home. After emergency personnel left the scene, a neighbor witnessed Holmes return to the residence about 20 minutes later.
Holmes said he took the bottle of prescription pills but after realizing the error of his ways, flushed them down the toilet. The empty bottle was found in the dumpster behind the police station.
On May 19, Holmes entered a plea of no contest to one charge of invasion in the first degree, a felony offense.
In court Friday, Holmes said he meant no harm.
"In no way shape or form did I mean disrespect to the county law enforcement or my own police department," he said. "I realize that I made a terrible mistake and error in judgment and in no way shape or form did I do that with malicious or criminal intent. I just was looking out for the safety of those residents."
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said the probation sentence was lenient.
"We deal with drug dealers and we don't allow them to escape without conviction," Fitz told NewsCenter16 after the decision was handed down. "We're not going to let a police officer do that as well."
The prosecutor's office had been pushing for a year in county jail or 20 months in prison.
"What Mr. Holmes did was a disgrace, it was a betrayal of his fine men and women in uniform who do their job diligently and bravely every day," he said. "His actions were clearly for the purpose of stealing some drugs."
Should Holmes violate the terms of his probation, he will be required to spend a year in Cass County Jail.