Handout photo of Nassau County Police officer Thomas Welsh.

Handout photo of Nassau County Police officer Thomas Welsh. Credit: NCPD

The wife of the decorated Nassau County cop charged with shoplifting $40 worth of baby food blames his crime on his prescription drugs, she said Thursday after a judge agreed to dismiss and seal the criminal case provided he does community service and stays out of trouble.

Samantha Welsh says her husband, Thomas, had surgery stemming from an on-the-job injury. She said he had been taking more than a dozen medications -- including such painkillers as oxycodone and Percocet and muscle relaxants.

"He was not in his right mind," she said. "My poor husband has gone through hell. He's recovering from the surgery. And this happens." She added: "It's not fair because my husband is not a criminal."

Thomas Welsh had fallen off a step ladder in the records bureau where he was assigned, police sources said. Weeks before the theft, he had neck and back surgery.

Welsh, 48, was caught April 23 on surveillance cameras hiding 29 children's fruit puree squeezable drink pouches under shopping bags hidden under his coat and secured by a bungee cord, according to a sworn statement in court records by a guard at the Stop & Shop at 520 Cherry Valley Lane in West Hempstead.

Welsh's wife said he had the cord there for ice packs to soothe his post-surgery pain.

The contraption and the theft led the Internal Affairs Unit to charge him with stealing the organic baby food. Welsh was ticketed for two misdemeanors: petty larceny and possession of burglary tool, the bag-and-cord contraption. Welsh, of Garden City, will have to do 14 hours of community service.

The police department will now seek to internally discipline Welsh, on the force since 1986, police said.

The dismissal, sealing and community service are part of an arrangement typical for first-time and minor offenses. The arrangement is known in legal jargon as an ACOD, or adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. As long as Welsh completes the community service and stays out of trouble, the case officially goes away Dec. 27, 2012.

Paul Portz Jr. of Westbury, Welsh's attorney, did not return a call seeking comment.

Welsh earned $147,607.43 in 2010, including base salary and overtime, according to county payroll records. At the time of his arrest, he was assigned to the police department's records bureau, which handles gun-permit requests, processes arrestees and tests suspected drunken drivers.

In 1997, Welsh got a Top Cop award, an honor bestowed on officers for remarkable work: he helped restrain a drunken, armed man in East Rockaway who was threatening to kill himself and his wife.

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