Operation Nighthawk alive and well

Published 8:51 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

CASSOPOLIS — A Cassopolis probationer and his family discovered on Tuesday that “Operation Nighthawk” is alive and well in Cass County.

The Nighthawk program is designed to provide evening and after-hours monitoring of Cass County probationers to insure they are complying with their rules of probation.

It has long been praised by law enforcement and prosecutors for helping insure that probationers toe the line.

And David Michael Kantz learned that lesson the hard way in court on Tuesday when a jury found him guilty of possession of marijuana on July 29, 2010.

Kantz, of M-60, Cassopolis, was on Michigan courtesy probation in 2010 for a 2006  Indiana conviction of  neglect of a dependent.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz praised the Department of Corrections and Cass County Drug Enforcement Team officers for their efforts.

Fitz also indicated Wednesday that “it is the height of arrogance to commit a crime while on probation.  When a court orders a probationer to obey the law, they darn well better do it.”

Testimony at jury trial April 26 revealed that on July 29, 2010, as part of Operation Nighthawk, CCDET detectives and probation/parole agents from the Michigan Department of Corrections conducted a home inspection on the home where defendant Kantz resided with his father, Barry Kantz, and brother, Thomas Kantz.

During a search of the residence, marijuana was found in the bedrooms of the 27- year-old Kantz, his father and his brother.

In an interview several days later, Kantz told Det. Dave Davis of CCDET that the marijuana found in his bedroom belonged to him and that he would take full responsibility for it. Kantz reiterated his statement after the interview, in the presence of his probation officer, Annegret Remmert.

Trial testimony indicated that Kantz had prior criminal convictions for marijuana and child endangerment due to drug-related activity.

Additionally, Agent Remmert testified that in May 2010, Kantz tested positive for marijuana during a required drug screen.

At trial, Kantz was unable to explain away the “Mary Jane” candy tin containing a partial marijuana cigarette that was located by Det. Davis and Agent Remmert on a windowsill in Kantz’s bedroom.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Sytsma tried the case for the people.

A jury of six persons deliberated for approximately 20 minutes before reaching their unanimous verdict of guilty of possession of marijuana.

Fourth District Judge Stacey A. Rentfrow sentenced Kantz to 21 days in jail, 18 months probation and fines and costs.

Barry Kantz was convicted on Aug. 10, 2010, of possession of marijuana for his part in the July 29, 2010, criminal activity and placed on probation.

Thomas Kantz was convicted of attempted maintaining a drug house and possession of marijuana and sentenced to serve time in jail.

Fitz stated at the conclusion of the case that “obeying the law is not that difficult.  Law-abiding citizens do it every day. Probationers need to do the same. And Nighthawk is there as a reminder.”

Thomas Kantz was also on parole at the time of the Nighthawk raid.