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Groner given 180 days in county jail

Published 10:14am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dowagiac Daily News

CASSOPOLIS – Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge said he has never seen a fall from grace like this in all his years on the bench.

Friday David Groner, a former funeral director and owner of Groner Funeral Home in Dowagiac, was sentenced to two years probation, 180 days in jail with 85 days credit for possession of methamphetamine as an habitual second offender, maintaining a drug house and possession of marijuana.

He will be allowed to serve the remainder of the sentence on tether.

He also must pay $699 in court costs.

Groner was arrested on those charges in late October and pleaded guilty in November.
Groner, 66, was on probation for misuse of funeral home funds.

In 2008, he was convicted of failing to put funds paid by clients for pre-arranged funerals into escrow, a violation of a state law requiring funeral homes to invest the funds within 30 days of receiving them.

Dodge recognized Groner’s upstanding reputation in and service to the community before the sentencing.

“But you can no longer help others,” Dodge said. “You need help.”

Failing to adhere to his probation again would likely result in a trip to prison, according to Dodge.

“You need to face the fact that you’re developing a drug problem and could face a prison sentence in the future,” Dodge told Groner. “I don’t think you want to be 70 years old and in prison.”

In other Jan. 22 sentencings:

• Preston Howard, 19, of Coloma, was sentenced to three years of probation and two concurrent 365-day jail terms with 130 already served for three counts of conspiracy to commit home invasion and home invasion in the second degree.

Howard was a lookout when Jeremy Bartalone and Justin Merrow broke into Dowagiac-area homes in April and June 2009.

He was also ordered to pay $3,239 in restitution and to perform 480 hours of community service.

Howard was contrite.

“I would like to apologize to my family and to the victims,” he said. “Although I was just the lookout, I feel like I took the things. I’m very, very sorry to my parents for disappointing them. I ask for another chance.”

• Allen Lane, 45, of Niles, was sentenced to 120 days in jail plus court costs for delivery of marijuana and maintaining a drug house. More than 3.5 pounds of marijuana and $4,000 cash were found on his property in September.

• Calvin Turpin, 38, of Cassopolis, was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 115 already served for failing to register as a sex offender in Cass County.

Turpin was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1992.

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