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‘Broken his oath.’ Former Kentucky police officer jailed in drug thefts from office

A former Kentucky police officer who stole drugs from the evidence room because of his addiction was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday.

Michael Correll, a former captain with the Somerset Police Department, pleaded guilty to a total of 20 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges that included tampering with evidence and possession of controlled substances.

Correll retired effective Nov. 1, 2022, after 19 years with the Somerset department, where he was a captain.

He kept keys and key cards that gave him access to the police department and the evidence room, and used them after he retired to return and take drugs, according to a sentencing memorandum by Commonwealth’s Attorney David L. Dalton.

Correll also took substances from a locked box people could use to dispose of unwanted drugs, according to the memo.

Correll went into the evidence room several times before a city employee saw Correll’s pickup truck in the parking lot at the department early on a Sunday, according to the court record.

The woman contacted her husband, an officer with the department, who said he’d just had a notification of the evidence-room alarm going off, then being disarmed with the code of another police department employee, according to the court record.

That employee confirmed he had not been in the building, meaning Correll used his code.

Somerset police contacted Kentucky State Police to investigate, which ultimately led to charges against Correll.

Jeremy and Kerri Bartley, Correll’s attorneys, argued in favor of a sentence of probation for him.

As a child, Correll suffered trauma and abuse at the hands of his mother, a drug abuser, and his father, who drank heavily and was prone to violence, the defense attorneys said in a sentencing memo.

Correll sometimes slept in a barn to escape his father’s outbursts, according to the memo.

Correll received accolades as a police officer, but received pain drugs after a surgery in 2020 and became reliant on them. The pain medication dulled the “overwhelming anxiety” he felt, and he also began drinking again, according to the memo.

Correll retired because he believed if he could get away from the stress of his job he could get control of his life, but by then his addiction was “too far gone” and he started taking drugs from the police department, his attorneys said.

Correl’s attorneys asked Circuit Judge Teresa Whitaker to put him on probation.

“If we expect first responders to protect us at all cost, even the cost of their own health, we must be willing to give them grace when they fall,” Correll’s attorneys said in their memo.

Dalton, the prosecutor, argued for a sentence of 10 years for Correll, noting he went to the building multiple times after retiring, used someone else’s alarm code and initially denied illegally accessing the evidence room or taking drugs.

In a search at Correll’s house, police found a .38-caliber pistol that had been missing from the police department and 90 grams of methamphetamine, according to the prosecution memo.

There were seven drug cases that authorities had to dismiss or couldn’t pursue because of Correll’s actions, and an audit of the evidence room showed 8,522 pills missing, Dalton said.

“The Defendant has broken his oath as a police officer and tarnished the reputation of an entire department,” Dalton said in his memo. “To allow this Defendant to saunter away from this treachery without imprisonment would unduly depreciate the seriousness of his actions.”

Whitaker settled on a sentence of five years for Correll during the Thursday hearing and had him taken into custody immediately.