A former corrections officer took his own life over the weekend after being found guilty in a case involving marijuana-infused butter, his attorney said.
Attorney Matthew Newberg told MLive.com that 49-year-old Timothy Bernhardt’s life had come to a “tragic” end on Sunday.
Bernhardt and three other Kent County Sheriff’s Department corrections officers were charged earlier this year with making marijuana butter. Although three of the men had medical marijuana cards, Michigan law does not protect patients who use edibles.
Bernhardt, who spent 22 years in law enforcement, had pleaded guilty to reduced charges of maintaining a drug house, which carried up to two years in prison.
Defense attorneys had argued that the men were doing the best they could to follow the state’s poorly-written medical marijuana law.
Attorney Bruce Block, who represented one of the men, insisted to MLive.com in March that “this was medical use beginning and end.”
“My understanding is (authorities) only found out about these officers because the caregiver that was supplying them was their registered caregiver like they were supposed to do under the law,” Block explained. “The cops apparently raid the caregiver, they see the cards and then the witch hunt begins.”
“They were trying to follow the act… they didn’t apparently do it quite right because the law, in my opinion, has been twisted and warped,” he added.
Newberg on Monday said that Bernhardt’s family was “understandably devastated” by his death.
He recalled how proud Bernhardt was of his law enforcement career, and the way that his former co-workers embraced him outside the courtroom the day that he pleaded guilty.
“That speaks volumes to his character and his legacy,” Newberg pointed out.
In a post on Facebook, Bernhardt’s wife called him “the most honorable man I ever met in my life.”
Watch the video below from WOOD, broadcast March 24, 2014.