Edwardsburg family sentenced for selling drugs near school

Published 6:48 am Monday, April 26, 2004

By By NORMA LERNER / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- An Edwardsburg man, his wife and daughter each received jail terms Friday in Cass County Circuit Court for selling drugs to school children from an apartment across from the Edwardsburg Public Schools.
Sentenced to 572 days each in the Cass County Jail were Richard Dean Williams, 44, and Tina Renee Williams, 42. Their daughter, Loretta Williams, 17, will serve 180 days in jail. They reside at 69315 Section St., Apt. 16.
Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge said to Richard Williams before sentencing, "Your criminal activity is despicable.
Dodge recounted it was Jan. 29 and 30 when Richard Williams sold a quantity of marijuana from their premises to Edwardsburg school students.
On Feb. 13 a search warrant was executed and found him to be in possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Dodge said his intent was to deliver crack cocaine. He said this drug activity was done in the presence of their granddaughter, Loretta's 6-month-old baby.
Dodge said Richard Williams used Loretta to solicit students, and his wife, Tina Williams, provided marijuana to them.
He said Richard Williams was convicted of possession of cocaine in 1997 at a location within 1,000 feet of Northside School in Elkhart, Ind., in a drug-free school zone, but that was dismissed. Michigan law allows that to be doubled from 40 years to 80 years.
Dodge said he felt serious about sending Richard Williams to prison with his heavy sentencing guidelines but said he will give a substantial confinement period.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Richard Williams was involved in a very serious crime in the community selling to school children. "This cannot be tolerated in the community. When you prey on vulnerable school-age children, there is no sense to that." He asked for a lengthy jail term.
Defense Attorney Dale Blunier said his client was "obviously wrong." Blunier said there was not a major quantity sold.
School-age children bought it. It was wrong but he asked for an incarceration below the guideline range of five to 23 months. Richard Williams said he was sorry.
Williams received 270 days in jail for maintaining a drug house, 180 concurrent days for possession of marijuana and 365 consecutive days for intent to deliver crack cocaine. He received credit for 63 days served and was imposed costs of $1,100. His driver's license was suspended for 365 days.
Mrs. Williams cried as she said she was sorry about the kids. Dodge told her it was "deplorable" that she committed these crimes with her 17-year-old daughter and her granddaughter.
He said she, too, could have received 80 years in prison for selling drugs in a drug-free zone.
She also has a prior conviction and committed the crimes while on probation in Indiana.
She received 270 days for maintaining a drug house and a concurrent 180 days for possession of marijuana, a consecutive 365 days for possession with intent to deliver marijuana and a concurrent 365 days for possession with intent to deliver cocaine. She was credited for 63 days served and was ordered to pay $1,160 in costs. Her driver's license was suspended for 365 days.
Regarding Loretta Williams, Fitz told the court that this was "sad and despicable behavior."
He said a mother should not have to endanger her child. She endangered her friends and children she brought into their drug house.
Blunier said Loretta was "very unsophisticated." It was the home she had with a 6-month-old child. She has been separated from her child. She doesn't have a lot of schooling. She was challenged socially. He asked for her time to be spent at KPEP, a Kalamazoo probation center.
She said she was sorry and sorry for her daughter, whom she loved more than anything.
Dodge said it was a sad situation. "You have been convicted of three felony charges of delivery of marijuana at a young age of 17. Your parents didn't do you any favors. They did a bad thing.
Loretta was caught when she sold marijuana to an undercover police informant.
Dodge imposed 180 concurrent days jail for all three convictions less 52 days served and two years of probation to be served alternately at the KPEP.
In another Edwardsburg drug-related sentencing Friday, Kimberly Ann Nelson, 32, 60315 Section Street, Apartment 2, received 365 days in jail, with credit for 49, for possession of methamphetamine on Feb. 28 at Section Street and U.S. 12. She was ordered to pay $920 in costs, and her license was suspended for 365 days.