Ex-con prison minister arrested for drug offenses

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 23:16:13-05

LOWELL, Mich. – An ex-con, who dedicated his life to helping others stay out of jail, is behind bars again after he was allegedly caught with drugs at a motel in Coldwater.

Gregory Emelander, 36, had done time in prison for home invasion and carrying a concealed weapon, as well as probation for serious drug offenses. But his friends say he was turning his life around after his latest release from prison in 2014.

Emelander is the leader of Conviction Ministries in Coldwater but had previously worked as the director of the prison ministry at Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lowell, where he would help others reform their lives.

"He was actually mentoring me at one time when I had got out of prison and wanted to change my life around," says Able Cherpes, one of Emelander's close friends.

Court documents show that police found cocaine and heroin at the motel room Emelander was staying on Jan 18. He was accompanied with 19-year-old Aryoana Strassman, who he had recently met. Strassman allegedly said Emelander asked her if she wanted to get high.

"I feel sorry for his wife,” says Michelle Cherpes, Able's wife. “I can't imagine what she's going through. I couldn't believe it, just didn't sound like the Greg that I knew."

Emelander is charged with 4 counts of delivery and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. He's also a habitual offender, meaning he can serve as many as 40 years in prison if convicted.