Repeat offender gets six years for meth

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Dowagiac man caught distributing and possessing methamphetamine while on parole will be returning to prison.

Justin Oliver

Justin Oliver

Judge Michael Dodge committed 33-year-old Justin Lee Oliver to the Michigan Department of Corrections to a minimum term of six years with a maximum term of 40 years during the man’s sentencing hearing Friday morning in Cass County Court. Oliver was sentenced on charges of delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine, both of which he pleaded guilty to on Dec. 14.

The charges stem from Oliver’s arrest on Oct. 6, following a search of a residence on North Front Street by detectives with the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team and probation agents with the Michigan Department of Corrections. The officers were in the midst of making a home call to the person living at that location when they found Oliver, who was present there, along with evidence of methamphetamine production and use, the judge said.

“For purposes of your guilty plea in this case, you did admit, under oath, that you had delivered some methamphetamine to another person and that you had been in possession of it as well,” Dodge said.

Oliver was on parole at the time of his arrest, having been released from a prison sentence imposed on him in Van Buren, also for methamphetamine-related charges, Dodge said. Oliver has two other prior felonies on his record, including another methamphetamine charge and a count of assault with intent to rob while armed, the judge said.

“This is a defendant who is 33 years old and has racked up an incredible criminal history,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Frank Machnik.

The prosecutor also mentioned that Oliver has admitted to abusing meth and other illegal substances, and had been denied placement in the Michigan Swift and Sure probation program, Machnik said. Machnik asked the judge to impose an extensive prison sentence for the defendant, based off the sentencing recommendation from the state.

Daniel French, Oliver’s attorney, asked the judge to deviate below this recommendation, saying that his client is dealing with several serious addictions that he requires treatment in order to overcome, French said.

“If he spends seven years in prison or 40 years, I don’t think that really treats the underlying problem he has,” French said.

Speaking on his own behalf, Oliver also asked Dodge for leniency, wanting help to combat his addiction to methamphetamine, he said.

“Somehow, in my time in prison, I want to get treatment so I can change my life before I lose my entire life,” Oliver said.

Oliver was not given any credit for time already served and must serve his sentence consecutively to parole, Dodge said.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Tiffany Lynne Jasper-Belmontes, 27, of Dowagiac, to 18 months probation for filing a false police report.

• Thomas Edward Pugh, 54, of Benton Harbor, to two years of probation and 180 days in jail for operating while intoxicated.

• Gary Dude Grady, 53, of Dowagiac, to 275 days in jail for stealing a financial transaction device and malicious destruction of personal property.

• Brittney Marie Born, 25, of Vandalia, to two years of probation and 60 days in jail for third-degree home invasion.