Dowagiac man sentenced for meth possession, driving while impaired

Published 10:25 am Monday, April 15, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac man with an extensive criminal record is going back to prison.

Gary Lee Leiting, 48, of Third Avenue in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and operating while impaired as a habitual third offender and was sentenced to concurrent terms of four to 20 years and three to 10 years in prison.

He has credit for 128 days already served and must pay $1,616 in fines and costs and $260 in restitution. His license was revoked as is required with the operating while impaired conviction.

The incident occurred July 23, 2018, in Dowagiac. Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman reported that Leiting sped away at a high rate of speed when police tried to stop him in the parking lot of a local motel. He was eventually stopped at Whitney and Wooden streets, where meth was found in his vehicle.

Judge Herman noted that at age 48, Leiting has 13 previous felony and 37 previous misdemeanor convictions.

“This could have been a dangerous situation as you ran and tried to evade police,” Herman said.

Defense attorney James Miller argued unsuccessfully that Leiting was being unfairly punished for his past record.

“Yes, it’s true he has a serious prior history, but we’re punishing him for his prior conduct,” Miller said. “It’s unfair and disproportionate. Without his history, he would be facing time in the county jail.”

Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Perry said Leiting’s actions were serious and could have hurt or killed someone.

Leiting’s past record includes a 2013 conviction in Berrien County Trial Court when he was living in Berrien Springs. He was sentenced to prison then for resisting and obstructing police and attempted malicious destruction of police property as a habitual offender.

Also Friday:

A Dowagiac woman who took advantage of an elderly man and watched while he was assaulted was sentenced to prison as a habitual offender.

Jami Lynn Cabana, 39, of Orchard Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of meth, unarmed robbery and larceny in a building and was sentenced to three concurrent prison terms. She received 25 months to 22 and a half years for unarmed robbery, 21 months to six years for larceny in a building and 17 months to 10 years for meth possession.

Cabana has credit for 140 days already served and must pay $2,314 in fines and costs and $1,005.50 in restitution.

The meth incident occurred Nov. 24, 2018, at First Street and Beckwith Avenue in Dowagiac when police found meth pills on her when they stopped the car she was in. The robbery incident occurred Oct. 3, 2018, at a home on W. Division Street in Dowagiac.

Judge Herman noted that Cabana had been staying in the home of Gary Bromley when he asked her to leave. She was present when her boyfriend and co-defendant, Michael Enboden, beat up Bromley, who was in a wheelchair. Enboden is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.

“I think you need to set the bar a little higher in achieving your goals,” the judge told Cabana. “This [sentencing] agreement gives you more benefit than I would have given you. These crimes carry penalties of up to 22 and a half years in prison. These convictions will weigh heavily in your next sentence if you ever come back.”

In another sentencing, an Edwardsburg teen and a Three Rivers man were both sentenced to a year in jail.

Dylan Richard Davis, 18, of Maple Drive in Edwardsburg, pleaded guilty to receiving and concealing stolen firearms and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for seven days served. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated domestic violence and attempted lying to a peace officer and was sentenced to 93 days in jail.

The weapons incident occurred July 10 at a location on Irving Drive in Edwardsburg. The domestic violence and lying to a peace officer incident occurred Dec. 4 at a location on Maple Drive in Edwardsburg.

Christopher Ray Sachjen, 35, of Three Rivers, pleaded guilty to larceny from a motor vehicle as a habitual offender and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 142 days already served. He must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Jan. 1, 2018, at a location on Cass Avenue in Vandalia. Sachjen entered an unoccupied vehicle and stole speakers, an amplifier and cash. Judge Herman noted that Sachjen was arrested after police tested blood found at the scene and identified him through his DNA.

“You said you did it to support your meth habit and that you want to be a productive member of the community,” the judge said. “You are 35 years old with 19 criminal convictions and an eighth-grade education. I want you to appreciate and take advantage of the resources in the jail.”