LONDON — A former Williamsburg police officer who admitted burglarizing a pharmacy to get prescription drugs has been sentenced to nine years and four months in federal prison.
A judge also ordered Kenneth Bradley Nighbert to pay restitution of $9,832, the amount an insurance company paid because of damage to the pharmacy.
The burglary occurred in February 2006. Nighbert was a patrolman at the time and was addicted to the painkiller OxyContin, according to court records.
He drove in his police cruiser to the pharmacy and ripped electrical meters from the building to shut down the alarm system.
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Then he and another man used a chain hooked to the bumper of a sport-utility vehicle to tear out the doors of the building, according to a court record.
Nighbert later resigned after being charged with hitting a woman's car while driving his police cruiser with drugs in his system.
In May 2007, he was arrested in Laurel County with drugs, a gun, a police badge and $32,000 he acknowledged he planned to use to buy pills.
He served a state prison term in that case but was charged in 2010 with having been part of a larger conspiracy to sell drugs in Whitley County for more than a year before his arrest in Laurel County.
On Wednesday, Nighbert's attorney, Luke Morgan, said drug addiction was at the root of Nighbert's crimes, but he had successfully completed treatment and has been clean more than four years.
"He is a new person," Morgan said.
Nighbert is remorseful and has helped authorities investigate corruption in Whitley County, putting him at great risk, Morgan said.
Nighbert, 34, originally faced a sentence of 235 to 293 months under advisory federal guidelines.
That range was cut to 121 to 151 months, in part because of Nighbert's cooperation with authorities.
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove said Nighbert deserved a substantial sentence, citing the need to deter others from crime and the fact that Nighbert violated a position of public trust.
Van Tatenhove also said Nighbert contributed to a drug problem that has fed an insidious level of public corruption and crime in Whitley County.
A former sheriff and a prominent attorney in the county pleaded guilty to corruption charges related to drug cases, and other former officers were implicated in drug abuse in Nighbert's case.
"I can't overstate the seriousness of this crime in terms of what it's doing to our community," Van Tatenhove said of prescription drug trafficking.
Van Tatenhove credited Nighbert for nine months he served in state prison and sentenced him to 112 months.
Nighbert is the son of former state Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert.