Ex-Houghton Co. undersheriff sentenced

Coppo gets 18 months’ probation

TRAVERSE CITY — A former Houghton County undersheriff was sentenced to 18 months probation Monday for operating a county-owned vehicle while intoxicated in March while attending a banquet for first responders in Traverse City. 

Kevin Coppo pleaded guilty in 86th District Court in June to operating with a blood-alcohol content above .17, a six-month misdemeanor, and failure to report an accident, a three-month misdemeanor.

Coppo was arrested at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City on March 3 after a hotel security guard saw him hit another vehicle in the parking lot before he returned to the hotel. Police who found Coppo at his hotel room found numerous cans there and in the vehicle. 

Coppo was also cited for refusing a breathalyzer test at the scene; he paid a $240 fine in June. Tests after his arrest showed blood-alcohol levels of .23 and .24 — three times the legal limit. 

“In that five months, I’ve learned that the accident is not why I’m standing here with you — it’s the alcohol,” he told Judge Michael Stepka Monday. “Since this incident I’ve worked towards addressing issues through counseling that should have been dealt with a long time ago.”

Coppo said his drinking stemmed in part from not addressing post-traumatic stress disorder from his experiences in 2005 and 2006, when he was helping to train military police in Iraq. He said he had also been dealing with the loss of his friend and boss, the late Sheriff Brian McLean, last August.

Coppo was placed on leave after his arrest. He submitted his resignation to the county in May. 

“I brought shame on myself, my profession, and my office, and for this I am truly sorry,” Coppo said. “I just want to get home and be a good father.”

Now that his sentence has been issued, Coppo intends to begin working a construction job with friends, his attorney Patrick Fragel said. 

After nine months, Coppo can ask for early release from probation. As conditions of his sentence, Coppo must also undergo 12-step programs and go to outpatient substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.


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