Former top graduate sentenced for stealing to feed heroin addiction

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Buchanan Township man who was once at the top of his graduating class at Lakeshore High School will spend the next several months in a correctional facility after he was caught stealing in order to feed his addiction to heroin.

Jesse Lee Nichols, 27, of Broceus School Road, was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Court in Niles to 15 months probation and 120 days to be served at the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program. The sentence stems from his plea of guilty to one count of second degree home invasion.

Jesse Lee Nichols

Jesse Lee Nichols

Nichols said he was “desperate” when he and two others broke into a neighbor’s home on Broceus School Road Jan. 10 and took property with the intention of selling it to buy heroin. When asked by Judge Angela Pasula how long he has had an issue with heroin, Nichols replied, “three years.”

Pasula also asked if he was, in fact, the top of his class at Lakeshore.

Nichols said he was.

“This is a long way from being No. 1 in the Lakeshore graduating class. … You have a very significant drug problem,” Pasula said. “You have to turn this around. Believe it or not that is a choice you can make.”

As part of his sentence, Nichols was ordered to successfully complete the county’s drug treatment court program and spend 90 days on electronic monitoring for alcohol use once released from KPEP.

Pasula warned Nichols not to violate the terms of his probation.

“If you violate, you very well may be prison bound,” she said. “It is all up to you.”


Man gets 23 months after seventh OWI

Also Monday, Arthur Mickey Chase, 61, of Galien, was sentenced to a minimum of 23 months and a maximum of 60 months in the Michigan Department of Corrections on one count of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Pasula said Chase had a blood alcohol level of .108 when the vehicle he was driving left the US-12 roadway and hit a tree, causing serious injuries to a passenger in the vehicle.

Pasula said this is Chase’s seventh conviction for drunk driving and that he had been sent to prison twice already for the same offense.

“This case really exemplifies why we have drunk driving laws,” she said.

Chase apologized for hurting the victim, but said jail is not made for a person of his age. He said it is difficult to get proper medication while in jail and complained that he only gets to change his clothing once a week there.

Pasula reminded Chase that not many people enjoy being in jail and that his actions caused him to be placed there.