GRAND RAPIDS - Former Benton Harbor policeman Andrew Collins will spend three years behind bars for corrupt practices involving fake drug buys.
Collins was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to 37 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release. Judge Robert Holmes Bell further ordered Collins, 26, to pay $10,000 in restitution to the city of Benton Harbor.
Last December, Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter said that his office and the courts would review cases against several people convicted of drug charges based on evidence obtained by Collins. Cotter said Wednesday that he has since dismissed about two dozen cases and that dozens of cases are still under review.
Collins pleaded guilty in January to possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of crack cocaine. The conviction stemmed from the seizure of crack cocaine, marijuana and heroin from Collins' police locker Feb. 18, 2008. Collins was then the police department's narcotics officer. The drugs should have been recorded and stored as evidence, but Collins kept them for his own gain.
U.S. Attorney Donald Davis said in a news release Wednesday announcing the sentencing that Collins "abused his position of trust as a police officer." At sentencing, Bell told Collins that his crime makes it harder for judges, prosecutors and police officers to do their jobs. Davis said the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI and its law enforcement partners consider crimes like Collins' to be of the highest priority.
"The respect and confidence the citizens place in their governmental institutions is dependent upon the honest and faithful services of the governmental employee," Davis said. "This office will aggressively pursue and prosecute governmental employees who violate their solemn oath and duties."
Davis said his office will work diligently with police and prosecutors to seek out and remedy any wrongful convictions resulting from Collins' criminal conduct.
While working in Benton Harbor, Collins failed to report and submit to the police department some narcotics he seized during arrests and instead stored them in his personal locker. He later used the drugs to report fictitious controlled purchases, thereby improperly securing search warrants and taking money from the Benton Harbor Police Department for the fake buys.
The investigation of Collins was conducted by the St. Joseph Office of the FBI in cooperation with state police, the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office and the Benton Harbor Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Delaney.