A former Columbus police officer who got hooked on pain killers admitted Monday to impersonating a member of his former profession.
Brad G. Nelms, 36, pleaded guilty to three counts of impersonating a public officer and one count of theft by taking in a hearing one of his attorneys called emotional. Surrounded by supporters, Nelms was sentenced by Superior Court Judge John Allen to one year in the Muscogee County Prison, followed by four years on probation, said Assistant District Attorney Crawford Seals.
The prosecutor said he believed Nelms impersonated an officer to get pain killers from people. Seals had recommended two years in prison, though Nelms didn't accept the offer and chose to plead "cold," or without a plea agreement.
"He admitted to everything," Seals said. "He said he was sorry."
Because he was sentenced to the Muscogee County Prison, Nelms will get two-days credit for every one spent behind bars, said Jennifer Dunlap, one of his attorneys. He's been incarcerated for about five months.
"I felt like it would have been the perfect case for Drug Court," Dunlap said. "I don't think he was a danger to anyone. I just think they were being really tough on him."
Mark Shelnutt, who also represents Nelms, said his client was in two accidents and legally prescribed pain killers. An almost eight-year veteran of the force, he resigned in December after he recognized he had a problem.
Nelms was accused of masquerading as an undercover narcotics investigator in January and taking prescription medicine from a shoebox in one home.
"Regular people — they don't know they have an addiction," Dunlap said.