TOMS RIVER — The Ocean County Sheriff's Department officer in charge of the K9 unit has pleaded guilty to charges he mishandled cocaine used as part of training.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said 16-year veteran John C. Adams initially claimed he had discarded more than a kilogram of cocaine with other items used during training.

The investigation, which began in January, revealed that Adams blamed other members of the K-9 unit for the drug's disappearance, according to the prosecutor's office. Coronato said the cocaine was diverted for Adams' own consumption.

Adams must leave the force as part of his plea agreement and is barred from future employment with the state. He will serve a three-year prison term and will not be eligible for parole during the first two years of the sentence.

Adams is free after posing bail and will be sentenced April 6, 2018.

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