A former Galveston police officer is scheduled to face punishment after pleading guilty to violating terms of a bond agreement struck in connection to domestic violence and stalking charges for which he was acquitted.
Justin Popovich, 40, of Galveston, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of violating a bond or protective order, according to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
Popovich in July 2020 was accused of violating court orders at least two times in 12 months.
Popovich entered a guilty plea in the 212th District Court. A punishment hearing was scheduled for Friday in the same court. Judge Patricia Grady will decide his punishment.
Popovich faces from two years to 10 years in prison, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Ott Roth said. He also could be sentenced to probation or punishment might be deferred, she said.
The bond violation stems from other charges filed against Popovich in January 2020. He was arrested and charged with domestic violence on Jan. 23. He was accused of hurting a woman he was dating during an incident at her home in June 2019.
A jury earlier this year found him not guilty of the domestic violence charge.
Popovich was released on bond after the initial charge. Then, in April, he was arrested three times over the course of four days and accused of violating terms of his release by trying to make contact with the woman he was accused of abusing.
After the third arrest, Popovich was charged with stalking.
Prosectors allege Popovich violated his bond by entering the woman’s house, by possessing multiple handguns and by calling the woman more than 20 times, according to police records.
Prosecutors this week dismissed the stalking charge but continued to pursue the bond violation charge, according to court documents.
Popovich was a sergeant for the Galveston Police Department. He was suspended in October 2019 when the domestic violence allegation first emerged. He was suspended without pay after being indicted in January 2020.
After his arrests in the spring, Popovich was indefinitely suspended by Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale.
An indefinite dismissal is equivalent to being fired. Under state civil service rules, however, officers can appeal a dismissal and potentially get their jobs back. The city of Galveston didn’t respond to a question Thursday about whether Popovich had appealed his suspension.
Under state law, a person who is convicted of a felony is disqualified from being a police officer.