Niles man owing $32K sentenced

Published 4:41 am Saturday, October 23, 2010

handcuffsCASSOPOLIS — It took a nudge from the Cass County legal system to get a Niles man to begin taking his child support payments seriously.

Since reaching a plea agreement six weeks ago after charges of failure to pay child support, Lamond Presswood has paid more than $6,000.

That may have saved him from a prison sentence, as Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge sentenced Presswood to three years of probation and 270 days in jail with credit for one day served on Friday.

Dodge said it appears Presswood “has seen the light and turned it around” but acknowledged he still owes $32,000 in unpaid child support.

“Prison wouldn’t be productive,” he said, telling Presswood he needs to continue generating income to make his payments.

Dodge also reprimanded Presswood for his three felonies and 13 misdemeanors since 1996 when he was given the child support order for two children.

“That interfered with your ability to make payments,” Dodge said.

The judge also asked Presswood how he was suddenly able to come up with $6,000 in six weeks after not making payments for such an extended period of time.

Presswood, 35, said he had gotten a couple of jobs painting cars that brought in several thousand dollars and he began selling personal items.

Assistant Prosecutor Diab Rizk recommended a prison sentence.

“The investigation speaks volumes about his lack of will to pay child support,” Rizk said, referencing court documents that show he was purchasing “luxuries” rather than making his payments.

For his part, Presswood said he had been through some challenges but is back on the track.

“Four years ago, I lost my mother and my grandmother. I nearly lost my mind,” he said. “But now I’m back.”

$20k in unpaid child support earns probation

Another Niles man, Alton Smith, also faced his sentencing for failure to pay child support Friday.

Owing $20,000 in child support payments, Smith, 37, was given a three-year probation sentence.

“I realize it’s a tough economy,” Dodge told Smith. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t generate a little money and start making payments.”

Crack dealer sentenced

Also on Friday, an Elkhart man, who had pleaded guilty to delivery of cocaine, was given “one last break,” according to Dodge.

Jerry Beathea, 44, was given a one-year jail sentence with credit for 66 days served for selling a $50 rock of crack cocaine to an undercover police informant last year.

Dodge said he “seriously considered prison” for Beathea, who has 60 points on his record.

“I hope you can take advantage of this,” he said. “Otherwise you know what will happen.”

Third drunken driving offense

Thomas Keys of Grand Rapids was not as lucky, sentenced to 23 months to five years in prison with credit for 57 days served.

Keys had pleaded guilty to his third drunk driving offense in Cass County in September.

Keys was arrested at the McDonald’s in Dowagiac after employees complained of his reckless driving in the parking lot.