Area resident sentenced on drugs, weapons charges

Published 7:36 am Saturday, April 4, 2020

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CASSOPOLIS — An Edwardsburg man is going to spend more time in jail after being sentenced on drug and weapons charges Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

David Helmke, 36, of Edwardsburg, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearms by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon and delivery/manufacture of a controlled substance, Gabapentin, and was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for 235 days served. He must pay $2,184 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Aug. 13, 2019, in Edwardsburg.

Several other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Those charges include delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a drug house and four counts of felony firearms.

Helmke’s past record includes 2011 convictions for delivery/manufacture of marijuana, possession of analogues, possession of marijuana and receiving and concealing stolen property.

As people have seen in recent weeks, the COVID-19 crisis has changed many things in society including court operations. Both Berrien and Cass courts are closed to the public and many court proceedings have been postponed.

A March order from the Michigan Supreme Court called on local courts to postpone civil proceedings and most criminal proceedings unless the defendant was in custody. In addition, it urged courts to provide services via phone and the internet rather than in person.

Friday, court proceedings again featured the defendant appearing via closed circuit television from the jail and a limited number in the courtroom to keep the number below 10 people.

One prominent case in Cass County has not yet been postponed. The George Field trial is currently set to start later this month.

Field, a former Southwestern Michigan College instructor, faces 17 criminal sexual conduct, perjury and insurance fraud charges stemming from incidents dating back to 2015.

Field is still scheduled to go to trial on the felony charges on April 28 in Cass County Circuit Court. A pretrial conference will be held April 17 in Allegan as Allegan Circuit Judge Roberts Kengis is presiding over the case.

Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman recused himself in 2018 after it was discovered that he had served on the board of directors of the counseling center where Field worked in addition to teaching at SMC.

Field was arrested in the fall of 2017. The investigation of Field began earlier that summer after a former SMC student told college officials about Field’s alleged actions against her. They began investigating and recommended she contact the sheriff’s department. SMC completed its investigation in late September 2017 when college leaders fired Field.