A former Macon police officer pleaded guilty on Thursday and was granted first-offender status, sentenced to 180 days in a detention center and 10 years of probation for stealing two handguns while on patrol.
Jonathan Graves, 27, took a .25-caliber gun he found when some people he was chasing dropped it in late 2011 on Holts Lane near Vineville Avenue.
Another pistol, a .380, he took from a house on Courtland Avenue in early 2012. The gun, reported stolen a couple of months earlier, turned up at a loud party hed been dispatched to. No one there claimed the gun, so Graves kept it.
He gave the weapons to relatives as gifts -- one to his parents, the other to his sister.
Graves pleaded guilty to two counts of fiduciary theft and one of violation of oath of office.
In court, Graves told Bibb Superior Court Judge Tripp Self that he knows it was wrong, but that at the time he didnt think that what I was doing was illegal.
I thought I could put (the guns) to a good use, Graves said. I gave them to family members. I didnt use them for personal gain. ... Just a lapse of judgment, a huge lapse of judgment.
Self reminded Graves the reason he found the guns in the first place was that he was a cop. The judge asked, What made you think you could keep them?
Graves said he justified taking the pistols this way: OK, nothing illegal has happened with these firearms. All theyre gonna do is sit down in the crime lab for a year or however long, and then theyre going to be destroyed. ... Why not take them home and clean them up?
Graves said he taught his mother and sister to shoot them because they had no way of protecting theirselves.
Buy them, Self told him, like everybody else.
Graves again said he knew it was wrong, a huge deal, but that I was a good officer.
Bibb District Attorney David Cooke had asked for Graves to be sent to prison for three years for what he considered a a serious violation of the public trust.
There were 11 police officers, some of Graves former colleagues, in the courtroom. Of them, Cooke said, Theyre going to be paying for what this defendant did.
The DA said it makes me sick to think Graves had thought no one would ever know about the thefts. He said not sending Graves to prison on a crime like this would be shameful.
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.