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Plea deals in UPSET drug bust case

July 29, 2013
The Daily News

By NIKKI YOUNK

Staff Writer

CRYSTAL FALLS - Three of the six defendants charged in a recent Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) drug bust in Iron River have entered into plea agreements and will be sentenced in September.

Joseph Baclich Jr., 31, of Iron River; Rhonda Nichols, 31, of Caspian; and Cami Fittante, 19, of Iron River all pleaded guilty to amended criminal complaints in Iron County Trial Court on Monday.

Baclich pleaded guilty to two felony counts of delivery of heroin and three felony counts of possession of analogues. He also agreed to testify against his codefendants if they choose to go to trial.

In exchange for the pleas, Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell dropped Baclich's habitual offender-second status and dismissed four felony counts of possession of analogues and one felony count of maintaining a drug house.

Baclich still faces a maximum penalty of 46 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 9.

Nichols pleaded guilty to two felony counts of delivery of heroin. She also agreed to testify against her codefendants if they choose to go to trial.

In exchange for the pleas, Powell dropped Nichols' habitual offender status from fourth to third and dismissed charges that Nichols faced in two other unrelated cases. The charges included one felony count of maintaining a drug house and two felony counts of non-sufficient check funds.

Nichols still faces a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 9.

Fittante pleaded guilty to one amended felony count of attempted possession of heroin and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. She also agreed to testify against her codefendants if they choose to go to trial.

In exchange for the pleas, Powell dismissed one misdemeanor count of use of heroin and agreed to not object to Fittante being placed in the drug court program and/or given Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) status.

Defendants who are placed under HYTA status will not have a criminal record if they successfully complete all probation requirements. Only defendants between the ages of 17 and 20 are eligible for HYTA.

Fittante still faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 9.

The other three defendants in the case are:

- Michael Walsh, 28, of Iron River, who failed to appear for his pre-trial on Monday. Judge C. Joseph Schwedler issued a bench warrant for his arrest and declared his bond forfeit.

Walsh faces two felony counts of delivery of heroin and three felony counts of possession of heroin. He is listed as a habitual offender-third.

If convicted, Walsh could spend up to 40 years in prison for each delivery of heroin count and up to eight years in prison for each possession of heroin count.

- Elizabeth Clements, 28, of Caspian, who continued her case to Aug. 19 in order to allow her attorneys time to work out a possible plea agreement.

Clements faces 10 felony counts of delivery of a schedule I, II, or III drug.

If convicted, she could spend up to seven years in prison for each count.

- Amy Marcell, 38, of Iron River, who had her pre-trial two weeks ago. She is scheduled for a supplemental pre-trial on Aug. 19 and a jury trial on Sept. 10.

Marcell faces four felony counts of delivery of a schedule I, II, or III drug.

If convicted, she could spend up to seven years in prison for each count.

Nikki Younk's e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.

 
 

 

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