Niles man sentenced for up to 15 years

Published 5:12 pm Monday, December 17, 2007

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – A Niles man convicted of possession of drugs and maintaining a drug house in a room at the Forler Motel at 2483 Yankee St. in Howard Township will spend 21/2 to 15 years behind bars.
Willie Brown, 51, who claimed his address at 911 Lake St., Niles, was convicted by a jury Nov. 27 for possession cocaine less than 25 grams, maintaining a drug house and habitual 4th possession of marijuana on May 3. His girlfriend, Bridgett Hoover, 42, was convicted earlier this year for possession of cocaine and received 180 days in jail. She resided at the motel with Brown.
Friday in Cass County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Dodge said Prosecutor Victor Fitz charged Brown as a 4th-habitual offender because of three previous felony convictions.
The court has the discretion to increase the first two convictions to 15 years. He said the Cass County Drug Team did a continuous surveillance at Forler's Motel after receiving tips about drug action. Dodge noted Brown had 17 jail terms and two prison terms and was on parole at the time of the offense.
Dodge imposed a concurrent 180-day jail term for the possession of marijuana conviction and made the three terms consecutive to Brown's convictions of conspiracy to break and enter in 1999, possession of controlled substance in 2005 and attempted maintaining a drug house in 2005. His costs totaled $730.
In other sentencings Friday:
A Dowagiac man Jonathan Valentin, 21, of Amerihost Drive, will serve an 18-month-to-10-year prison term for two assaults each, one with attempted assault with intent to commit penetration on Jan. 1, 2006, and one with assault with intent to commit penetration on March 29, 2007.
Dodge recalled in the Jan. 1, 2006, offense, a 15-year-old girl became pregnant and had a baby after she turned 16. In the March 29, 2007, offense, Valentin forced sexual intercourse with a woman who had to be treated at Lakeland Hospital in Niles. His costs totaled $1,840.
Joseph Pengelinan, 18, of 54554 Estates Lane, Eau Claire, received 90 days jail for operating a vehicle without a license on July 31 in Dowagiac and a concurrent 120 days jail for 3rd-offense attempted fleeing. His costs totaled $160.
Albert Cresswell Jr., 19, of 726 34th Place, T. Madison, Iowa, received two years probation plus 150 days jail for three counts of receiving and concealing stolen property on Oct. 26 on a vacant lot on Michigan-51, Dowagiac. He and a companion stole a snowmobile, a go cart and a large axle trailer.
Dodge said Cresswell should be ashamed of himself as he has to report for active duty to the National Guard Feb. 3. "On one hand you are serving your country and on the other hand you steal a trailer and snowmobile. There's no excuse for your criminal conduct. I don't know if you will make your unit required date," he said.
Cresswell's costs totaled $1,160 plus restitution of $1,028 and $713.
Charles Conner, 45, 410 South St., Cassopolis, received 18 months probation for delivering/manufacturing marijuana on Aug. 8 on South Street, Cassopolis. His costs totaled $1,580 plus $53 restitution.
Robert Shinabarger, 23, 20152 County Road 8, Bristol, Ind. received three years probation plus 120 days jail for 3rd-offense operating a vehicle while intoxicated on Aug. 13 on Calvin Hill Street, Cassopolis. He got a concurrent 90 days jail for attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer.
He lost control of his vehicle and ended up in a swamp. His blood alcohol was tested at 0.21 percent, more than twice the legal limit. His costs were $1,760 plus $315 restitution.
Shawn Bennett, 20, 55705 Elder, Mishawaka, Ind., received three years probation plus 210 days jail for third-degree fleeing police and a concurrent 210 days jail for carrying a weapon, a knife, on Oct. 17 on Crooked Creek Road, Cassopolis.
Bennett led police on a high-speed chase from Elkhart County into Michigan. He is to pay $1,880 in costs.