Meth charges lead to prison, probation

NILES – A Buchanan man is going to prison after being caught selling meth to an undercover police officer.

Garrett Black-Damaske, 25, of Buchanan, pleaded guilty to delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 52 months to 20 years in prison with credit for 76 days already served.

He received concurrent sentences for resisting and obstructing police as well as two contempt of court violations.

The meth incident occurred Sept. 5, 2019, when he was arrested by the Southwest Drug Enforcement Team, while the resisting and obstructing police incident occurred Dec. 19 in Niles.

His past record includes a 2013 conviction for second-degree home invasion which resulted in a prison sentence.

Monday, Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock departed downward from the sentencing guidelines which called for a minimum 72-month prison sentence. He noted that if the controlled substance had been cocaine and not meth, the guidelines would have been lower.

He also noted that Black-Damaske’s health concerns, he has been diagnosed with cancer, was another substantial and compelling reason to depart downward from the guidelines.

In another sentencing, a South Bend man was sentenced to probation for possession of methamphetamines.

Chad Monroe Swank, 42, of South Bend, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, 90 days in jail with credit for 43 days served and $198 in fines and costs. He can serve the remainder of his jail term in the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program.

He also had his probation revoked from a December, 2019 sentence for use of methamphetamines as a habitual offender. He was given credit for 104 days already served in that case.

The current incident occurred May 1 in Niles.

Defense attorney Jason Engram noted that nearly all of Swank’s criminal record has involved substance abuse in the last five years. “Mr. Swank has problems he needs to get a handle on,” he said. “I ask for a shorter jail term and probation. If you just sentence him to jail, he will be back here again.”

Swank said he agreed with Engram’s assessment. He noted that he is looking at getting into some drug rehabilitation programs on his own.

Judge Schrock agreed that Swank needs to be monitored and needs to get help for his meth addiction.

A Niles man was sentenced to probation and jail for assaulting his partner.

Aaron Lee Weaver, 42, of Buchanan, pleaded guilty to attempted assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or second offense domestic violence and was sentenced to two years’ probation, 180 days jail with credit for 50 days already served and $658 in fines and costs. He can serve the remainder of his jail term in the Tri-Cap program.

The incident occurred April 27 in Niles when he assaulted his partner.

Another youth involved in a fall 2019 robbery in the Niles Riverfront Park was sentenced to probation.

A 16-year-old boy, of Niles, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and unarmed robbery and was sentenced to three years’ probation, credit for 64 days already served, 120 days tether and $258 in fines and costs. He was ordered to get his high school diploma and not have contact with his co-defendants.

The incident occurred Oct. 3 when he took part in the robbery of a Niles man in Riverfront Park. A co-defendant met the victim online and set up a date to meet him. The five co-defendants conspired to rob the victim of marijuana, a phone, car keys and other items.

The other co-defendants have already been sentenced.

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