Former sheriff’s department lieutenant to appear in court Wednesday

Published 3:15 pm Monday, June 13, 2022

NILES — A former Berrien County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant will be back in court later this week on alleged embezzlement charges. 

Trent Babcock is scheduled for a case conference Wednesday in Berrien County Trial Court on three counts of embezzlement $1,000 to $20,000, a five year felony, stemming from alleged incidents dating back to 2017. He was arraigned on the three felony counts April 27 and subsequently waived the holding of a preliminary hearing. 

If no settlement is reached Wednesday, the matter will proceed to a case conference and then trial. The trial is tentatively scheduled for August. 

Court records indicate that a police investigation began March 1 into the alleged embezzlement from the Niles Wrestling Club. The wrestling club is described as a wrestling organization in Niles set up for young wrestlers to travel and compete in competitions. 

Police issued search warrants to look at bank records and conducted interviews with witnesses. Babcock was a wrestling coach with the club and is alleged to have control of the club funds at United Federal Credit Union from 2016 to present. 

A co-signer on the wrestling club accounts confirmed that she and Babcock were the only two signers on the account and Babcock was the only one with an activated credit/debit card for it. 

Police found a total of 36 unexplained transactions from 2017 to 2022 totaling $11,514.23, according to the police report. Transactions listed in the police report included purchases of auto parts, fuel, equipment rentals and cash withdrawals. 

This isn’t Babcock’s first run-in with the law. He was charged with retail fraud in 2017 for shoplifting items from the Niles Wal-Mart. He pleaded to a misdemeanor retail fraud count and was ordered to pay fines and costs.  

It was that conviction that led Sheriff Paul Bailey to fire him. Bailey reported at the time that the termination came after an internal investigation. Babcock had been an 18 year veteran of the department, stationed primarily in Niles Township.