Ludington man gets 7-40 year prison term for meth.

January 24, 2018

Nicholas Helfrich with defense attorney William Weise.

Ludington man gets 7-40 year prison term for meth.


By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — Judge Susan K. Sniegowski of the 51st Circuit Court handed down a 7-40 year prison term to a 28-year-old repeat offender for meth Tuesday, Jan. 23, but not without giving the Ludington man some solid advice to beat his addiction.

“I find this to be an incredibly sad situation,” Judge Sniegowski said to Nicholas Gene Helfrich who is convicted of operating/maintaining a laboratory involving methamphetamine and third-offense habitual offender.

“Focus on what you have to lose,” the judge advised Helfrich, in order to be successful at beating his drug addiction. “There are people out there who love you and want you to get past this.”

Helfrich has been in prison two previous times for drug convictions in 2010 and 2013, the judge said.

“When I got off parole in 2016, I thought it was OK to start using again because I wasn’t under supervision,” Helfrich said. “I got out of control after about six months.

“I plan to use my time in prison to better myself,” he said. “I want to figure out what I did wrong, so I don’t do it again and reoffend.”

Helfrich said he’s been working on battling his addiction by taking classes in the Mason County Jail through Community Mental Health.

His plea agreement in the case called for 7-40 years in prison, and Judge Sniegowski followed it. Sentencing guidelines in the case were 72-180 months.

Helfrich’s attorney, William Weise, argued for a shorter sentence that would be more in line with his co-defendant’s sentence. Helfrich’s co-defendant 34-year-old Bryan Jacob Carroll, of 506 Melendy St., Ludington, was sentenced to to 6-40 in prison earlier this month.

Carroll was on parole, so he did not receive any credit for his eight months of incarceration. Helfrich, however, received credit for 274 days served in jail.

The circumstances of the case put Helfrich at the bottom of the sentencing guidelines, but his criminal history put him at the top, Sniegowski said.

Helfrich and Carroll procured the “basic household ingredients” with the intent to manufacture meth, but they did not make any meth before they were apprehended by SSCENT (State, Sheriffs’, Chiefs’ Enforcement of of Narcotics Team), the judge said.

The two exchanged texts planning to make the meth, said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola. Helfrich texted Carroll, stating that he was “coming out of retirement,” Spaniola said.

“It’s hard to separate the two individuals as far as culpability,” Weise said.

The defense attorney noted that his client has “tremendous family support and a solid work history.”

“He plans to take advantage of the resources at the Michigan Department of Corrections, so he can come back and be a productive citizen,” Weise said.

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