Niles woman gets prison time for causing fire after falling asleep while smoking

Published 1:39 pm Monday, November 29, 2021

NILES – Two area residents were sentenced to prison Monday in Berrien County Trial Court.

Jennifer Centerial Allen, 35, of Niles, pleaded no contest to third-degree arson and was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years in prison. She has credit for 273 days already served and must pay $198 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Feb. 22 in Niles. Allen’s attorney, Scott Sanford, said Allen was smoking and fell asleep when the fire started.

Sanford said his client has significant mental health issues and was going through a psychotic episode at the time of this incident.

“We did investigate and spoke with the Niles police department on the number of calls she made to police,” he said. “She has significant mental health issues that were exacerbated by COVID when the calls to police skyrocketed.”

Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock said he will recommend that Allen receive mental health treatment in prison.

“One of the tragedies of the criminal justice system is the failure to recognize when there are mental health issues,” he said. “I can only recommend that she gets mental health treatment.”

Jack Timothy Farrow, 28, pleaded guilty to delivery/manufacture of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 51 months to 20 years in prison. He has credit for 10 days already served and must pay $198 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred May 4 when he was arrested by the Southwest Michigan Drug Enforcement Team.

“I want to say that I take full responsibility for my actions,” Farrow said. “I want to learn from my mistakes and be there for my son, he’s my world. I will continue to correct my wrongdoings.”

Judge Schrock acknowledged background information and issues raised by Farrow’s attorney, Peter Johnson, and said he would sentence him within the guidelines. “Just look at your record, it is what it is,” he told Farrow.

In another sentencing, a man who stole from vehicles and businesses in the area was given credit for time served.

Jeffrey Lee Davis, 44, pleaded guilty to larceny from a motor vehicle and was sentenced to credit for 69 days served and $1,497.95 in fines, costs and restitution.

The incident occurred Feb. 5. He stole items from vehicles as well as items from Shelton’s Farm Market in a case that was dismissed.

“The two to 17 guideline range is one tick from a straddle cell,” Judge Schrock said. “If you had scored for that, I would send you to prison. Addiction or no addiction, there’s no excuse for preying on people. Unfortunately, the legislature has tied my hands in this case.”

In other sentencings:

  • Lamont Ivory Green, 41, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree domestic violence and was sentenced to credit for 144 days already served. The incident occurred July 10 in Niles.
  • Lauren Nichole Hopper pleaded guilty to use of meth and was sentenced to credit for time served and $50. That incident occurred March 13, 2017. She also pleaded attempted embezzlement $1,000 to $20,000 and was sentenced to three years’ probation and $12,901.78 in fines, costs and restitution. That incident occurred Dec. 21, 2020.
  • Annette Danielle King pleaded guilty to possession of meth and was sentenced to two years’ probation under 7411 provisions where she can keep it off her record if she’s successful. She has credit for one day served and must pay $258. The incident occurred Aug. 3.
  • Quionna Nickens pleaded guilty to dangerous use of a device or weapon and was sentenced to nine months’ probation under 771.1 provisions which can keep it offer her record, credit for two days served and $585. The incident occurred Aug. 3 in Niles.
  • Jason Ray Tolley, 41, pleaded guilty to attempted retaining financial transaction device, breaking and entering a motor vehicle causing damage and retaining a financial transaction device and was sentenced to two years’ probation on the last charge, credit for 59 days already served and $1,450 in fines, costs and restitution. The incidents occurred June 4, 10 and 23.