Northwest Herald, nwherald.com
BYLINE: CHELSEA McDOUGALL -
Ryszard T. Kopacz
WOODSTOCK – Testimony at a sentencing hearing for a former Hebron police officer revealed he sold marijuana while on duty from his squad car and at the department.
Ryszard T. Kopacz, 32, was found guilty in August of illegally possessing weapons from the department's evidence locker. He was charged separately in a drug case and pleaded guilty Monday before a sentencing hearing.
His guilty plea was accepted by McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer, who later sentenced him to four years in prison.
A confidential informant testified that Kopacz, of Wauconda, had given her drugs eight or nine times, often in small amounts, but as much as 2 ounces. He often was on duty and in uniform when he gave her the drugs that officials said he acquired from his brother.
Kopacz was fired from Hebron in June 2014 for "budgetary reasons," village officials said. He later went to work for Richmond, and police officials there said they "heard nothing bad" about the officer. They also had conducted a background check before hiring Kopacz part time. He worked there three days.
While on duty with the Richmond Police Department in July 2014, he went door-to-door in a senior living community asking for prescription drugs, testimony revealed. He approached four elderly women's apartments asking for medication for a toothache. At least one resident gave him a hydrocodone pill, authorities said.
One woman testified she was scared of Kopacz and that he was pacing her apartment and acting nervous.
"He almost looked like he was casing the joint," the 83-year-old said.
In regard to the weapons case, authorities had found three long guns in his bedroom that belonged to the Hebron Police Department. The guns weren't immediately discovered missing from Hebron, and it wasn't until Richmond asked the State Police to investigate their claims that the weapons were uncovered.
Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs has said Kopacz was angry about being fired in Hebron and knew that no one would notice the missing guns.
"He knew no one would ever know because no one was checking," Combs said at Kopacz's August trial.
Kopacz told investigators he brought the guns home to clean them, but he intended to bring them back.
His defense attorney, Steven Goldman, has argued the state provided no evidence that Kopacz intended to keep the guns. Further, there was no written or verbal policy stating Kopacz couldn't take them home.
The four-year sentence must be served at 50 percent, meaning he could be released in two years. Kopacz is out on bond. He will be remanded Jan. 4 to begin serving his sentence.
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