Dowagiac woman returning to prison for meth lab

Published 10:29 am Monday, November 9, 2015

A Dowagiac woman’s relapse into the addictive grips of methamphetamine has earned her another extended stay in prison.

Tiffany Gillesby

Tiffany Gillesby

Judge Michael Dodge sentenced 41-year-old Tiffany Gillesby to a minimum of four years to a maximum of 30 years in prison during her appearance in Cass County court Friday, on five drug-related charges, including delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine and operating/maintaining a lab involving methamphetamine.  Gillesby had pleaded guilty to the counts against her during a prior appearance in court on Oct. 2.

The charges stem from the Dowagiac woman’s arrest on July 22, following a search of she and her husband Brent’s residence on Haines Street by officers with the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team that uncovered the presence of meth production inside their home.

Detectives had been monitoring the purchase of Sudafed, a common over-the-counter drug commonly used to make meth, at local stores when they discovered that the couple had been purchasing boxes of the decongestant medicine in Michigan and Indiana. As result, they were able to obtain a search warrant for their home. While executing the warrant, officers discovered three one-pot meth labs in the basement, along with gas generators and other components needed to make the illegal substance, Dodge said.

“You and your husband candidly admitted you had relapsed and had once again started making and using methamphetamine,” Dodge said. “The nature of the substance is that you can make it yourself, so when people relapse they don’t go out on the street and buy it, they just make it and start using; that’s exactly what you did.”

Gillesby’s latest conviction was her third drug-related offense in the last four years, with arrests in 2011 and 2013 for meth, said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. Her arrest in 2011 followed a search of she and her husband’s home that uncovered 25 one-pot labs, which the prosecutor’s office called one of the largest meth operations in Cass County history at the time.

The prosecutor recommended that Gillesby be sentenced to prison for her latest crime, pointing out the dangers of producing methamphetamine inside of a residential neighborhood and the overall impact drugs have on the community, he said.

“She has been in prison before, and it looks like that’s where she needs to be at this time, unfortunately,” Fitz said.

Gillesby’s attorney, Robert Drake, said his client has demonstrated the ability in the past to rid herself of meth’s addictive influence, as she had completed the court’s Swift and Sure probation program just months prior to her arrest.

“It’s when her and her husband are together that these things happen,” Drake said. “They feed off each other. They can’t say no to each other. It’s a tragic situation.”

Drake asked that the judge give Gillesby a sentence below the department of correction’s recommendation of six years minimum in prison.

Dodge decided to deviate from the recommended prison sentence, taking into account her previous success on probation and the fact that her criminal record only extends to the past few years, he said.

“Despite my departure from the guidelines, I do recognize four years is a substantial amount of time,” Dodge said. “We’re talking about someone who messed up and relapsed on their addiction, and the consequence is four years in prison.”

Gillesby was given 108 days credit for time already served.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Tyler Weems, 31, of Niles, to two years of probation for possession of cocaine.

• Mandy Baker, 32, of Cassopolis, to one year of probation for possession of an analogue substance and marijuana.

• Christopher Anderson, 34, of Elkhart, to two years of probation for operating while intoxicated, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest.

• Sharmaine Joseph, 51, of Dowagiac, to 210 days in jail for possession of cocaine.

• Jason Shorts, 50, of Niles, to two years of probation and 150 days in jail for marijuana related charges.

• Scott Fus, 42, of Dowagiac, to two years of probation and 30 days in jail for operating while intoxicated and domestic violence.