South Bend man gets jail time for Berrien Township vehicle theft

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

NILES — A South Bend man received jail time Monday in Berrien County Trial Court for stealing a vehicle from a Berrien Township man last year.

Gaetano Ryan Dedonato, 29, of South Bend, pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to two years probation, completion of the Twin County probation program, 260 days in jail with credit for 176 days served and $458 in fines and costs. Restitution will be determined at a later date. He can serve the rest of the jail term at Twin County. 

He also pleaded guilty to contempt of court for failing to appear for previous sentencing dates and was sentenced to credit for 52 days served. 

The incident occurred Feb. 17, 2022 in Berrien Township. The victim spoke before the sentencing and said Dedonato took his car and he has not been able to recover it. 

Dedonato apologized to the victim and the court but gave a different version of events. 

“I’m not sure I believe you,” Judge Smith said. “I think you are in denial. I think you intended to get as much use out of the car as possible and trade it for another car. You’ve never given people an idea of where the car is.”