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Woman gets 10 years for role in assault

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac woman convicted of conspiracy to commit sexual assaults on a young girl in 2018 and early 2019 will spend the next 10 years in prison after being sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Alison Mae Morgado, 37, of Reed Street in Dowagiac, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a person under age 13 with the defendant over 17 and was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison. She has credit for 283 days already served. She must register as a sex offender.

The 10-year prison sentence was part of a plea agreement reached between the Cass County prosecutor’s office and Morgado’s attorney. Another count of conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct were dismissed as part of the agreement.

The incidents occurred between May 2018 and January 2019 at a location in the Dowagiac area against a 9-year-old girl. Her co-defendant, Joshua Lange, was sentenced in September to 20 to 50 years in prison.

The victim’s grandmother spoke before sentencing and read a statement that the victim wrote.

“I don’t know why you did these things,” the young girl wrote. “I don’t know why you were mean to me.”

“These types of cases are very disturbing,” said Cass County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Hubbert. “It’s horrifying the things this little girl was subjected to by the defendant and her boyfriend. She will have trauma for life. This is heartbreaking and incredibly disturbing.”

Morgado said she asks God every day for the victim to forgive her.

“I hope my time away will help everyone heal,” she said.

In another sentencing, a Dowagiac woman who smuggled drugs into the Cass County Jail was sentenced to jail and probation.

Renietta Szulczyk, 37, of North Front Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to eight charges of drug delivery, possession and furnishing contraband to prisoners and was sentenced to two years of probation and 270 days in jail with credit for 225 days served.

The incidents occurred between May and June 2019, when she smuggled drugs to her boyfriend, Jai Villalobos, in the Cass County Jail. Villalobos was sentenced Jan. 24 to six years in prison. Sheriff’s deputies learned about Szulczyk’s actions when they intercepted a letter Villalobos sent her.

“You had a good job as a human resources manager at Walmart,” said Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman. “It boggles my mind that you throw everything away to smuggle drugs to someone who is just using you.”

“You said you turned back to using drugs two years ago when your mother died,” the judge added. “She’d be rolling over in her grave that you turned to drugs. She’d want you to be safe, in a good place and having a positive life. If you truly love your mother, destroying your life is not the way to do it. No man is worth throwing your life away for and no real man would ask you to do this.”

Also Friday, a Niles man was given a year in jail for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a Dowagiac man was given probation and jail for assaulting his wife and mother.

David Dustin Kurzhal, 38, of Sullivan Avenue in Niles, pleaded guilty as a habitual offender to possession of ammunition by a felon, possession of a weapon by a felon and driving with a suspended license and was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for nine days served on the first two charges and credit for time served for the last charge. He must pay $2,098.

The incident occurred July 12 at U.S. 12 and Bell Road in Milton Township when police stopped him for having a headlight out and found a loaded shotgun and ammunition in the car.

“I want to apologize. I made a big mistake and there’s no excuse for it,” Kurzhal said. “It was a stupid decision to even drive.”

Jason Matthew Grady, 33, of Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation and was sentenced to five years’ probation in the Swift & Sure Program, 365 days jail with credit for 191 days served and $2,148 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred July 31 at a home on East Telegraph Street in Dowagiac when he assaulted his then wife and his mother. He choked his wife and then hit his mother and slammed her head on a desk when she tried to call 9-1-1.

“Up to 10 minutes ago you were going to prison,” Judge Herman said. “I will give you this opportunity but listen to me very intently and closely. You are going to prison if you do this again. … This is truly your last chance to avoid prison. I will adopt the recommendation if you lay a hand on anyone.”

Destiny Cheyenne Lee, 21, of Lake Street in Niles, pleaded guilty to third degree home invasion and was given credit for one day served and ordered to pay $1,698. She is already on probation in Berrien County and faces charges in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

The incident occurred Oct. 24, 2017, at a home near Edwardsburg and was part of a crime spree in three counties.

Eric D. Herald, 38, of Osceola, pleaded guilty to third offense drunk driving as a habitual offender was sentenced to two years’ probation, 210 days in jail with credit for two days served, 480 hours of community service, $2,348 in fines and costs and $315 in restitution. The last 180 days of his jail sentence could be spent on tether.

The incident occurred June 27 at U.S. 12 and Cassopolis Road in Mason Township. His blood alcohol content was .14.