Dowagiac woman gets probation for cocaine possession

Published 12:38 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac woman with a long criminal history was given the chance to stay out of jail and serve probation after being sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman called Loretta Wilson “the poster child” of how drugs can destroy a life.  Wilson, 64, of South Front Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine less than 25 grams and was sentenced to two years probation, credit for three days served and $2,246 in fines and costs. 

The first incident occurred July 31, 2020 when police conducted a search of her home in Dowagiac and found cocaine and other items. She was not present at the time and a bench warrant was issued.  

The second incident occurred July 3, 2022 when police stopped her for a defective taillight and arrested her on the bench warrant as well as a new charge when cocaine was found in the car. 

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman deviated below the sentencing guidelines which called for a minimum of two months in jail even though he acknowledged her record of 16 felonies and 13 misdemeanors. He noted that Wilson had spent over seven years of her life in jail or prison. 

“You’re now attending meetings and counseling and trying to change your life,” the judge told Wilson. “Probation and the prosecutor are asking for jail and I agreed with them until I saw you today … I would love nothing more than to have you make changes in your life and be a productive member of society … I’d rather see you turn your life around.” 

“If you violate your probation, realize that my intention would be a higher amount of jail,” he added. “If you’re giving me a song and dance, you won’t last two years before I see you. Your life has been destroyed because of drugs, you have to make sure no one in your life is involved in drugs.” 

Wilson told the judge that she knows she has an “ugly record” but said she’s taking care of her 14 year old nephew, volunteering at her church and in the community and attending counseling sessions.  

Defense attorney Nicholas Hogue said Wilson has turned over a new leaf and has taken steps to eliminate people from her life who had encouraged her drug habits. “We have an opportunity to force her into the things that are good for her and she wants this,” he said.