Hunting cabin break in leads to prison time

CASSOPOLIS – A Mishawaka man is going to prison after breaking into a hunting cabin and stealing several items in Calvin Township near Vandalia.

Taylor Alan Overton, 25, of Mishawaka, pleaded guilty to five felonies and was sentenced to one term of one year in jail, three terms of two to 10 years in prison and one term of six to 20 years in prison. All sentences are concurrent.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit larceny over $20,000, conspiracy to breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny, conspiracy to steal firearms and conducting a criminal enterprise.

Taylor Alan Overton

Overton must pay $3,092 in fines and costs and $14,300 in restitution. He has credit for 207 days already served. His jail and prison terms may be served in any penal institution. He still faces drug and other charges in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

The larceny charges occurred Dec. 16, 2017, at a property on Chain Lake Street near Vandalia, while conducting a criminal enterprise charge occurred at the same location between Nov. 1, 2017 and Jan. 17, 2018.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Overton and his co-defendants were involved in a “huge operation” with numerous items taken including tools, all-terrain vehicles and more than 50 grams.

“He is a threat to the security of the community,” Fitz said. “He’s real dangerous to the community on both sides of the state line.”

“Stealing things was their job week after week,” he added. “The police detective who saw where they stored all the stolen items was overwhelmed. It was like a Wal-Mart of stolen property with washers, dryers, construction materials and guns. … When guns get out on the street, people can get hurt and die.”

“This is big league stuff with continuous activity involving stolen property over several months,” he said. “They impacted several families here and around South Bend.”

Defense attorney James Miller said his client’s life has gone off the rails.

“His lie could be explained as falling off the rails after starting off well,” he said. “He’s hard working but he’s devoted his energy to crime. … I think he’s bright enough to know he needs to use his energy on something positive.”

During sentencing, Overton apologized for his actions and to his family.

Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman said it concerned him that Overton was out on bond from another offense when he committed these crimes.

“At 25, you’ve gotten yourself in a real mess,” he told Overton. “I’ve read the letters from your family and friends, they say you’re basically a good person.”

“Unfortunately, you’re going to miss out on the next few years of your daughter’s life,” the judge said. “I wished you had thought of the impact of your actions on your daughter. The role of a parent is to teach their children right from wrong … You need to get your priorities straight.”

In other sentencings:

• A Dowagiac man was sentenced to probation and jail for drug charges.

Cole Leonidas Northrop, 22, of Dutch Settlement Road in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and delivery/manufacture of marijuana and was sentenced to three years probation and 180 days in jail. He has credit for 58 days already served.

The incident occurred Oct. 1 at a location on Broad Street in Cassopolis.

• A Niles area woman who broke into a nearby abandoned house earlier this year will have the chance to keep the felony charge off her record.

Kelly Lynn Jacks, 40, of Burton Road in Niles, was placed on one year’s probation and fines and costs of $1,198 in fines and costs for breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny. The sentence is deferred for one year until Dec. 13, 2019.

The incident occurred April 12 at a property in the 2300 block of Yankee Street in Howard Township. Jacks broke into the property that she thought was vacant and was caught by the homeowner who held her at gunpoint until police arrived.

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