UPDATE: LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- A former La Crosse police lieutenant who admitted to taking drugs from the La Crosse Police Department evidence room will spend three months in La Crosse county jail. Brian Thomson spend another three months on electronic monitoring as part of hi s three year probation sentence.
Thomson's evidence tampering impacted local and federal drug cases. He pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempting to possess narcotics without a prescription in December.
Monroe County Judge Todd Ziegler and special prosecutor Jeff Gabrysiak handled the case to avoid a conflict of interest.
Speaking on behalf of the La Crosse Police Department, Captain Shawn Kudron asked the court to impose a fair sentence on Brian Thomson, that adequately reflects the severity of his crime.
"He recited the Law Enforcement oath of honor," Capt. Kudron said. "The first oath states on my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. Brian betrayed each one on numerous occasions. Due to Thomson's actions of opening over 60 evidence envelopes over a two year span and stealing narcotics from them, many criminal cases have been effected. Suspects who have preyed on the La Crosse Community have faced reduced charges because evidence against them is now missing."
But the five friends and officers who spoke on Thomson's behalf paint a picture of a man with an addiction.
"He's a not a criminal, he's an addict," said retired La Crosse police officer Thad Baldwin.
Onalaska Officer Jim Page says he worked but Thomson but they aren't good friends. Still, Page spoke on Thomson's behalf, saying the former police lieutenant has PTSD as a result of cases he's seen during his two-decades on the force.
"I would ask the court to take in to consideration the physical and emotional traumas that Brian has sustained over the last 20 years," Page said. "Officers who've been on the job as long as we have, didn't have emotional support in the beginning of their careers and although its gotten better, we're basically disposable. This job used Brian up."
Thomson's attorney, Keith Belzer, says Thomson abused alcohol to deal with the PTSD and after sustaining a back injury and being prescribed pain killers, he became an addict.
"Again that's not an excuse, it doesn't make away the harm that's been caused," Belzer said. "On the other hand, it's not as villainous a character defect as someone who's things for profit or personal gain."
Before Judge Ziegler handed down the sentence, Thomson himself addressed the court.
"The officers I used to work with, the trust that I've betrayed, the community, those are things I'll never be able to get back, your honor. those are things I used to pride myself on," Thomson said. "I look at a monster at time sin the mirror and I wonder what happened. I've been sober and clean now and I feel great. I've reconnected with my family. My children have got a father they didn't have."
Judge Ziegler acknowledged Thomson's work to get clean and cooperation during the investigation. But said some jail time is necessary because of the breach of public trust and impact on other pending drug cases.
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A former La Crosse Police lieutenant arrested last August for taking drugs from the department's evidence room is sentenced Tuesday afternoon.
Brian Thomson had pleaded guilty in December to a felony charge of Possession of Narcotics Drugs.
Tuesday, Monroe County Judge Todd Ziegler sentenced Thomson to three years of extended supervision, three months in jail, and three months of house arrest.
Several people testified both for and against Thomson during sentencing. The first, Captain Shawn Kudron of the La Crosse Police Department, said that a drug suspects had charges reduced as a result of Thomson's actions. Both local and federal court cases were impacted by what Thomson did, according to Kudron. Morale at the department suffered, too. Kudron said department members now have to work to regain the public's trust.
Speaking on behalf of Thomson was retired police officer Thad Baldwin. He described as a good cop, a cop's cop, but someone overcome by addiction. He characterized Thomson as an addict, not a criminal.
Onalaska Police Officer Jim Page testified that this was a case of poor decision making. He told the court that the job used Thomson up. Added with the traumas and an undiagnosed case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, it led to the addiction. Page urged the court that while Thomson violated the trust of the city and his family, it take into consideration his trauma and addiction.
Family members and friends also testified Thomson is a good father and friend, but someone who made bad choices.
Special prosecutor Jeffrey Gabrysiak of the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office said Thomson's case was about a betrayal of trust. He reminded the court that drug cases were dismissed due to what Thomson did.
Gabrysiak argued for jail time to assure the public the sentence is not just a 'wink and a nod' because Thomson was a law enforcement official. He asked for three years probation and one year in jail.
Thomson's attorney, Keith Belzer began his argument by acknowledging the problems Thomson caused the department and the District Attorney's Office. He said Thomson is willing to testify in the cases he impacted.
Belzer went on to go over how following back surgery, Thomson got hooked on painkillers. He described Thomson as having as full blown addiction as he's ever seen.
Speaking to the court just before sentence was passed, Thomson tearfully apologized to his family and the department for what he did. He told the judge he'd accept whatever punishment the court saw fit to pronounce.
In his sentencing, Judge Todd Ziegler said that this was not a prison case, and concluded by sentencing Thomson to three months in jail, extended supervision, and house arrest.
Thomson could have received a three-and-a-half year prison term.
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