By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS - One of the six defendants who were arrested in an Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) drug bust in Iron River was sentenced Monday.
Cami Fittante, 19, of Iron River will spend 15 days in the Iron County Jail with credit for three days already served. She also must serve two years of probation and enter the drug court program.
Judge C. Joseph Schwedler agreed to grant Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) status to Fittante.
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 was sentenced on one felony count of attempted possession of heroin and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.
During sentencing in Iron County Trial Court, Fittante's attorney Brian Brouillette urged Judge Schwedler to follow the sentencing guidelines of the Michigan Department of Corrections' pre-sentence investigation. The guidelines called for Fittante to spend zero to one month in jail.
"I see a changed person," said Brouillette. "She's looking forward to having someone look over her shoulder so she doesn't fall back on what she did in the past."
Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell noted that Fittante does not have a significant prior criminal history.
"She needs to be sincere about getting clean," she added.
When given a chance to address the court, Fittante expressed remorse for her actions.
"I realize what I did was unacceptable and against the law," she said.
Judge Schwedler told Fittante that sentencing guidelines only allow him to sentence her to a short time in jail. However, he warned her that going through the drug court program will be tough.
"If you test positive, if you try to cheat the system, you will get caught," said Judge Schwedler. "You will go back to jail immediately."
Four of Fittante's co-defendants are scheduled for sentencing later this month.
Rhonda Nichols, 31, of Caspian was supposed to be sentenced Monday on two felony counts of delivery of heroin, but Judge Schwedler decided to give her some more time to pay restitution on another matter. Nichols will now be sentenced on Sept. 16.
Also scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 16 is 31-year-old Joseph Baclich Jr. of Iron River. He will be sentenced on two felony counts of delivery of heroin and three felony counts of possession of analogues.
Elizabeth Clements, 28, of Caspian faces sentencing on Sept. 23 for one felony count of delivery of Ritalin and one felony count of attempted buying or selling stolen non-ferrous metals.
Amy Marcell, 38, Iron River faces sentencing on Sept. 30 for one felony count of delivery of hydrocodone.
A sixth co-defendant, 28-year-old Michael Walsh of Iron River, was in court Monday for a bond violation hearing. Walsh had failed to appear for a pre-trial in Iron County Trial Court back on July 29.
Walsh's attorney Don Powell explained to the court that his client was in a psychiatric unit at the time.
Don Powell pointed out that Walsh has consistently stayed in close contact with him over the phone, but plea negotiations with the prosecutor kept being delayed.
Judge Schwedler ordered Walsh to spend 15 days in jail for violating his bond. Walsh's $1,000 cash bond will be reinstated after the 15 days.
Walsh will return to court on Sept. 23 for a supplemental pre-trial on two felony counts of delivery of heroin and three felony counts of possession of heroin.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.