A former Des Moines officer who faced criminal charges related to planting methamphetamine on a suspect in order to make an arrest has been sentenced to probation.
Court records show Tyson Teut, 31, of Johnston pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of non-felonious misconduct in office. The crime is a serious misdemeanor and could have netted Teut up to a year in jail.
Instead, Teut was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation and will pay a $315 fine, plus a court surcharge.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of perjury and felonious conduct in office against Teut and agreed to recommend probation, documents show. Had he been convicted of both of those felony charges, Teut could have faced as much as 10 years in prison.
Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said Monday that his office determined that they did not have enough evidence to feel confident going forward with the felony charges.
“We got out of it what we could get based on the evidence that we have and what we thought we could prove,” he said.
The text of the charge Teut pleaded guilty to states that he “committed or knowingly aided and abetted in the commission of non-felonious misconduct in office by failing to perform a duty required by law, while on duty as a public employee or officer.”
Teut was originally accused of taking meth from one suspect and documenting it as evidence in another suspect’s arrest.
On Jan. 1, 2015, Teut and another former officer, Joshua Judge, arrested Kyle Jacob Weldon on outstanding warrants out of Marion and Monroe counties for theft and probation violation.
“A small container with residue suspected of being methamphetamine was found on (Weldon),” but “the amount of residue in the container was likely not enough to … positively identify the substance,” according to the criminal complaints.
“During the same work shift, Officer Teut arrested another subject after the subject had thrown a container of methamphetamine out of a vehicle. Officer Teut later placed an amount of methamphetamine from the second incident into the container of the subject arrested in the first incident (Weldon),” according to the complaints.
Weldon was charged with possession of methamphetamine, and Teut wrote a now-discredited criminal complaint supporting that charge. The complaint alleged that Weldon had a container of meth in his front pants pocket.
Weldon’s drug possession conviction was dismissed after the allegations of officer misconduct became public and after he spent 32 days in jail.
Sarcone said his office worked with the public defender’s office to get Weldon’s conviction vacated as soon as Des Moines police alerted them to the misconduct.
“We obviously take these things seriously and we took it seriously from the outset first of all by making sure Mr. Weldon’s conviction was vacated. That’s the most important part of this,” he said. “And then we also held (Teut) accountable for his conduct.”
Sarcone said Teut’s conviction will remain on his record and will prevent him from getting another job in law enforcement.
Teut and Judge, who was not charged in connection with the incident, resigned from the Des Moines Police Department in December 2016.
Des Moines Sgt. Paul Parizek expressed confidence in Sarcone’s handling of the case.
“I’m confident that the county attorney’s office did what they felt was appropriate and I think it’s time for everybody — the community, Teut, us — to move on,” Parizek said Monday.
Teut’s attorney, Montgomery Brown, said he believes the outcome of the case was fair. He said the defense’s argument was that Teut’s statements in the complaint and the court were not false since Weldon’s container did contain methamphetamine residue, but they “admitted that he had adulterated the evidence from the first case with evidence from a second case that was seized later on in the evening.”
Teut now works at a family business in the Des Moines metro and has apologized to the police department for his conduct, Brown said.
“He’s pleased with the outcome and glad it’s over with for him and his family,” Brown said.