Benton Harbor man gets prison time for meth possession

Published 5:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2023

 CASSOPOLIS — A Benton Harbor man was sentenced to prison Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Curtis James Sylvester, 37, of Benton Harbor, pleaded guilty to possession o methamphetamines and was sentenced to 38 months to 10 years in prison. He has credit for 200 days already served and must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Sept. 15, 2020 on Michigan 51 in Dowagiac. Police stopped his vehicle for expired plates and a police dog found drugs in the car.

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman noted that Sylvester has failed to appear at least twice for court hearings prior to Friday’s sentencing. Herman also said that Sylvester has committed crimes and faces charges in other jurisdictions since the 2020 incident.

Defense attorney Robert Drake had asked for a Swift & Sure probation sentence, noting that it has helped many people in Sylvester’s situation. Drake said the program has worked nationwide to turn people’s life around. He said there would be a low risk to give his client the opportunity since he could be sentenced to prison if he violates.

In sentencing Sylvester to prison rather than Swift & Sure probation, Judge Herman said that while Sylvester met the criteria for the program he hasn’t shown a willingness to actually do the work to change. “I’m amazed at the recommendation of Swift & Sure, you’ve never availed yourself of programs,” he said.

“You certainly meet the criteria for Swift & Sure, but I see nothing in your history to show that you’re willing to do the work or do anything except what you want, when you want,” the judge said. “Your several failure to appears shows your court who you really are. You seem to be a one man crime spree except when you’re locked up.”

Judge Herman told Sylvester that his recent attempts to get counseling only came as an attempt to get out of a prison sentence. “I see it as a ploy to get out of prison, then scoot once you’re through with a program,” he said. “You’ve shown your true colors over the years.”