Cass man jailed for drugs, guns

CASSOPOLIS – A Cassopolis man caught with guns and drugs during a traffic stop in Dowagiac last year is going to prison.

Laquan Forte Broussard, 29, of Tharp Lake Road in Cassopolis, pleaded guilty to and was sentenced Friday in Cass Circuit Court to six concurrent terms of 30 months in prison on drug and weapon charges, and a consecutive two-year prison term for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, all as a habitual offender.

The six 30-month prison terms were for conspiracy to delivery marijuana, delivery/manufacture of marijuana, conspiracy to carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of clonazepam. He was also given credit for time served, 244 days, for possession of marijuana as a habitual offender.

Laquan Forte Broussard

The incident occurred Aug. 5, 2017 on Riverside Drive in Dowagiac. Police smelled marijuana when they stopped Broussard’s car for a traffic violation. They found 10 individual bags of marijuana, pills, scales and a loaded handgun on a search of the vehicle.

“He is one of the more foolhardy smart guys I’ve dealt with,” said Cass Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “He’s a fool when it comes to his lifestyle and running with drugs and guns. He’s had similar incidents in the past and he hasn’t learned from it. This is the type of incident where people can get injured or killed.”

Defense attorney Robert Steinhoff asked Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman to look at the case through the prism of recreational marijuana now being legalized. Steinhoff said the law criminalizing marijuana was wrong before voters decided to decriminalize it in November.

For his part, Broussard said he felt his sentence was unfair and he was being treated differently because of his race and nationality as non-Caucasian.

“I think race is a factor. Caucasians with aggravated assault convictions have been given local sentences,” he said.

Judge Herman said Broussard’s sentence had nothing to do with his nationality make-up and he was not being treated differently because of his race.

“I can understand where you’re coming from,” the judge said. “You’re articulate but at some point, you have to ask yourself whether the drugs and guns are worth it. You can say it’s about race, but it’s drugs and guns. … Carrying guns and drugs is what got you here.”

In another sentencing, a Dowagiac man who fled police who stopped him outside of the Four Winds Casino and then crashed his car on Wilbur Hill Road was sentenced to a year in jail.

Robert Ray Gettig, 35, of East Prairie Ronde in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to third-degree fleeing police and resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 365 days in jail with credit for 139 days served. He must pay $1,616 in fines and costs.

He was also given credit for time served, 139 days, for possession of marijuana which was found after being tossed out of his car.

The incident occurred July 21, south of Dowagiac. Police attempted to stop him outside of the Four Winds Casino. He rammed a police car and drove off at a high rate of speed. He crashed his car at Wilbur Hill and Pokagon and took off on foot. The car caught on fire and one passenger was trapped and had to be rescued by police.

“This is pretty serious stuff,” Fitz said. “Someone could have died here between him, his passenger or the police. The vehicle caught on fire and people were temporarily trapped. … He’s been using marijuana since the age of 12. He’s wasting his potential.”

Defense attorney Jim Miller said his client had a panic attack and fled from police. Gettig also faces charges in Berrien and Van Buren counties.

“Your life is a train wreck right now and you’ve been off track for a long, long time,” Herman said. “You’re 34 and have seven children you’ve fathered. In this case, you left a passenger behind in a burning vehicle.”

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