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Dowagiac man jailed for robbing migrant workers

Published 8:50am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A 23-year-old Dowagiac man was sentenced to four years of probation, with the first 300 days to be served in jail, for robbing two migrant workers in Eau Claire.

The sentence was handed down by Judge Dennis Wiley Monday in Berrien County Court in Niles.

According to court documents, Lee Chess Roberts participated in a scheme that targeted migrant workers in September of 2013. As part of the scheme, two female co-defendants approached the male victims at a gas station in Benton Harbor, offering a “business transaction.” When the females followed the victims back to their residence in the 6400 block of Hipps Hollow Road in Eau Claire, Roberts and another male co-defendant assaulted and stole money from the two men.

Assistant Prosecutor Mark Sanford said Roberts and his co-defendants targeted migrant workers because they believed they would be less likely to go to police.

Also Monday, Roxie Hall, 22, of Niles, to a minimum of 14 months in prison on one count of felony home invasion in the third degree.

Judge Dennis Wiley said he departed above sentencing guidelines because Hall was on probation while committing the offense. Wiley said he had sentenced Hall to probation in September of last year for the unlawful use of a

motor vehicle.

“I don’t see any reason to waste any more resources and time… You obviously don’t get it,” Wiley said.

The offense occurred on Dec. 4 at a dwelling in the 1800 block of Lewis Drive. According to court documents, a renter returned to the residence to find a number of items missing. An investigation revealed that Hall left the door to the residence unlocked, allowing a co-defendant to enter.

Also Monday, 27-year-old Justin Ryan Gross, of Niles, was sentenced to two years of probation on one count of attempted larceny. Court documents show that Gross stole his grandmother’s wallet while he was living with her in the 1600 block of Howard Street in Niles on March 24.

“That’s pretty despicable,” said Wiley of Gross’ decision to steal from his 70-year-old relative.

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