CASSOPOLIS — A 23-year-old Edwardsburg man with a record so extensive that he’s classified as a four-time habitual offender is headed to prison for torching businesses in an industrial park in Edwardsburg, causing $712,000 in damage.
In addition to receiving a 5- to 20-year sentence Friday in Cass County Circuit Court with credit for 234 days already served in jail, Adam Sheneman was ordered to pay with a co-defendant $712,000 in restitution.
Judge Michael Dodge said it was Feb. 15 when Sheneman and the co-defendant broke into several buildings in the park on May Street and doused at least two of them with an accelerant. They were unable to ignite pallets at Duo-Form, Dodge said, but they succeeded in setting fire to wood at another business.
It was little solace that Lawrence Quigley, Sheneman’s court-appointed attorney, told the court that the two didn’t steal anything. Sheneman’s comments to the judge also failed to generate much sympathy, given his record of three prior felonies and 15 misdemeanors.
“I am sorry for what I done ... I think I learned my lesson (in jail) ... I do want to change for the better,’’ he said.
Dodge said he was surprised to hear Sheneman comment as well that the fire wasn’t intentional. Even more surprising, the judge said, was his request that he not be sent to prison.
As a four-time habitual offender, Sheneman scored in the highest category as far as sentence guidelines, the judge said, and could have received as much as a life term.
“There is absolutely no reason to deviate from the guideline range,’’ Dodge said.
Dodge echoed assistant Cass Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle by pointing out the damage Sheneman and the co-defendant caused could have put some of the companies out of business. But the judge did grant Sheneman something of a break by sentencing him in the mid-range of the guidelines rather than at the top end. Sheneman’s term could have been as high as 9½ years.
Also today, a Niles man with a drug problem was fortunate to avoid jail and/or prison time for his role in the theft of engine blocks from an auto salvage business on Terminal Road in Niles. The engines were sold for scrap.
Dodge earlier ordered one of two co-defendants, Derak Williams, to prison based on Williams’ more extensive prior record but today he ordered Brian Hoy, 31, to serve two years of probation. The judge said a review of the pre-sentence report indicated Hoy was “more of a follower.’’
Hoy’s previous record consisted of just two misdemeanors, the judge said.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: