‘Changed man’ in a tether term instead of jail.

April 19, 2016

Roberts reads a statement during his sentencing in 51st Circuit Court. His attorney, Douglas Stevenson, is pictured at right.

Phillip Roberts, Jr., reads a statement during his sentencing in 51st Circuit Court. His attorney, Douglas Stevenson, is pictured at right.

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — A 30-year-old Grand Rapids man, who is a former Amber Township resident, provided a tearful apology in 51st Circuit Court Tuesday, April 19, during his sentencing for a felony conviction of receiving and concealing stolen firearms.

Phillip Edward Roberts, Jr., who pleaded “no contest” to the charge last month, was sentenced Tuesday to serve seven months on an electronic tether of a one-year discretionary jail term instead of going to jail for seven months.

“I apologize for my actions three years ago,” Roberts read in a prepared statement as he wept. “I never used to care.” He said that he is now a “family man,” and has realized that his actions “affect us all as a unit.” He promised Judge Susan K. Sniegowski that he will “never be before a judge again.”

He said that he now sees that his actions affect others. “My family has been a through a lot because of my actions,” he said. “My family struggles and goes without because of my actions. My family needs me, and I need them.”

Roberts’ attorney, Douglas Stevenson, said his client is a changed man since the “gun-for-hire” incident. He said that Roberts is working and enrolled in college classes and is also in alcohol treatment. “He has taken the bull by the horns,” Stevenson said. “I think we got his attention.” Roberts, who has been on a tether since his release from jail, is “re-establishing himself” in Grand Rapids, the attorney said.

Roberts was arrested last November by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office for felonies of receiving and concealing firearms; two counts of felony firearms; possession of a firearm by a felon; and conspiracy to commit receiving and concealing firearms, along with a fourth-offense habitual offender designation.

In exchange for his plea to the first count, the other counts were dismissed. The charges stem from an incident involving the sale of a handgun that occurred in the fall of 2014 in the Village of Fountain, Roberts testified previously.

Roberts was also ordered to serve two years probation; pay restitution; and must provide truthful testimony against any co-defendants in the case. He received credit for 103 days served in jail.

Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said Roberts has been extremely cooperative with the apprehension of co-defendant Isaiah G. Gardenhire. Gardenhire, 35, of 7171 E. Stolberg Rd., Sheridan Township, was found guilty Jan. 6 of felon in possession of firearms/weapons and fourth-offense habitual offender. He was sentenced Feb. 16 to three to 20 years in prison.

“Mr. Roberts was instrumental in apprehending a highly-dangerous individual,” said Spaniola, who he described as “a leader in this situation.” Spaniola said Gardenhire’s “presence in prison makes this community a safer place.” He thanked Roberts for helping.

Sneigowski said she sees a change in Roberts’ demeanor and behavior, adding that he’s “moving in that direction to make positive changes in his life.” She said, “You do have the ability to succeed.”

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