Wayland man sentenced after burglary, impersonating police officer

Daniel Pepper, Staff Writer

A Wayland man was sent to prison for 29 months to 15 years after he admitted breaking into a home in one incident, pretending to be a police officer in a second and flooding a cell at the Allegan County Jail after he’d been arrested for the first two.

Matthew Michael Holcomb, 40, was in Allegan County Circuit Court Thursday, Dec. 28, for sentencing.

Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker said the home invasion was extremely serious in its effects on the victims.

“It puts them in fear and not just them, but the whole community,” Bakker said.

The records, the judge said, Holcomb had sought treatment but didn’t keep up with it.

“You had the opportunity to get treatment for your issues and you didn’t do that,” Bakker said.

Assistant Allegan County prosecutor Jessica Winsemius argued the home invasion was very serious.

“These individuals came home and found a former co-worker in their house,” Winsemius said.

Holcomb, she said, had put them in danger, as they came home to see a .22 rifle Holcomb had been trying to steal laying out of its normal place.

“He did put these individuals at risk and he stole multiple items,” Winsemius said.

Attorney Emily Green said her client was in a psychotic state at the time.

Green argued that her client had stayed out of trouble for years until his mental health problems increased and he began self-medicating with illegal drugs.

“He was in a state where his family even said ‘That’s not him,’” Green said.

Bakker sentenced Holcomb to 29 months to 15 years for the second degree home invasion charge and 210 days in jail for attempted possession of analogues, with credit for 210 days served. The judge also sentenced Holcomb to 90 days in jail, with credit for 90 days served, for impersonating a police officer.

Holcomb admitted he’d banged on doors at a Wayland apartment complex in April, wearing a hat that read “SWAT” and yelling “This is the police!”

He said at the plea hearing he’d meant it as a practical joke on his daughter and her boyfriend, but didn’t know which apartment the boyfriend’s mother lived in.

In another case, Holcomb admitted to damaging fire or police property.

Winsemius said the amount of damage was still being calculated and asked the court for more time to seek restitution.

Attorney James Burnett said it wasn’t fair to leave the amount hanging over his client.

“This happened in May 2017,” Burnett said. “It’s somewhat odd to me it would take seven months to compile a restitution amount.”

Holcomb was sentenced to 195 days in jail, with credit for 195 days served.

Bakker gave the prosecutor’s office 90 days to submit a restitution request and said it was ordered unless Burnett challenged it.

The prosecutor’s office pushed for higher sentencing guidelines based on a provision involving compromising the security or operations of a correctional facility.

Winsemius said, “He intentionally damaged the sprinkler head in the holding cell at the Allegan County Jail and caused a severe flood in the cell.”

Bakker ruled the report didn’t show the required compromise of security.

In another instance, Winsemius argued Holcomb had made threats against the officers who’d arrested him, which should yield a longer sentence.

“The defendant was indicating to the officers he had companions in various drug cartels and in Blackwater and his friends would come and burn the Wayland State Police Post down,” Winsemius said.

Green said her client was having a severe mental health problem at the time and pointed out the police  and prosecutors hadn’t taken it seriously enough to file charges in reaction to the threats.

Bakker sided with prosecution on this one, saying that the report hadn’t indicated anything about Holcomb’s mental state at the time.

The eventual guideline range decided on was 29 to 57 months.

Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.


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