Dowagiac man sentenced to jail following drug overdose, probation violation

CASSOPOLIS – A Dowagiac man has to spend more time in jail after violating his probation from a 2018 conviction. Sentencings Friday were once again conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Jeromy Donald Northrop, 33, of Glenwood Road in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to violating his 2018 probation for larceny in a building and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 262 days already served. His probation was revoked.

His most recent probation violation came April 23 when he used heroin and nearly died from an overdose.

Defense attorney Robert Kardatzke said his client was doing well until the COVID-19 virus hit.

“He says he was doing well until the virus hit,” Kardatzke said. “When everything closed down, he kind of turned in on himself. He should be able to still work for his dad. Doing logging and physical outdoor work will allow him to keep himself occupied.”

Northrop thanked his probation agent for giving him opportunities to better himself and apologized for being dishonest with him.

“I was still in contact with him, and I was still using and lying to him,” he said. “I was clean for nine months and was doing really well before COVID. Then I was isolated and returned to my old thinking. I’m grateful to be alive and hope to reprioritize.”

Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman questioned Northrop’s judgement.

“I’m told you’re an intelligent guy,” Herman said. “I’m always at a loss as I sit here at the bench. What is it that prompts you to continue to use, what pushes you to continue to use?”

“It’s a multitude of things, it’s not easy to answer,” Northrop responded. “It’s not just one thing, it’s hard to describe. Once I start using, a switch goes off and I’m not the same person. Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that. It’s a variety of things.”

Herman told Northrop that he needs to get his addiction under control in order to save his life.

“I understand that there are a number of issues, how do you avoid it?” the judge asked. “How do you not fall back into that? You don’t have a choice, you can’t go out for a weekend, party once and then go to work. Regardless of what the court does today, it will be a relatively short period of time before you’re out again.”

“You’re 33 years old and have a lot of life ahead of you,” he added. “It would be sad to read in the newspaper that you have died. How do you make sure it doesn’t happen again, how do you avoid that? You have to understand that you’re an addict and will be for your whole life.”

Northrop agreed and said he had plans to work on controlling his addiction.

“I feel that it’s something I’ll have to work out every day,” Northrop said. “I realize the importance of staying connected. I want to have a mentor and talk to other recovering addicts.”

In other sentencings, two Elkhart residents were sentenced on drunk driving charges.

 

Lyndzi Lee Scherer, 40, of Elkhart, pleaded guilty to drunk driving with an occupant under age 16 and attempted resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, credit for time served and $1,200 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Nov. 9, 2019, in Ontwa Township when police stopped her car. Her blood alcohol level was .14, nearly twice the legal limit. Charges of drunk driving, no operator’s license, open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and another charge of drunk driving with an occupant under age 16 were dismissed.

Cass County Assistant Prosecutor Tom Hubbert noted that this was her fourth drunk driving conviction.

“It is particularly concerning that she had two children in the vehicle,” he said. “The bottom line is that some people can’t drink, and she’s one of those people.”

Jeffrey Kent Hartman, 57, of Elkhart, pleaded guilty to drunk driving with a high blood alcohol content and was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, attendance at a victim impact panel session, $1,490 in fines, costs and restitution and five days in jail with credit for two days served.

The incident occurred Jan. 25 in Porter Township.

Judge Herman ordered Hartman to turn himself into the jail Friday afternoon and noted that he will be out of jail and done with his sentence by Sunday.

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