Court too lenient in drunken driving case


In the July 27,edition of The Herald-Palladium, the paper did a nice job covering the recent criminal activity of Berrien Springs’ principal, Ryan J. Pesce, as well as his past criminal activity.

Based on the punishment Mr. Pesce just received for his recent OUIL and his previous 2017 domestic violence conviction, I am very disappointed in the area court’s handling of both of these cases.

The Cass County sheriff’s report indicates Mr. Pesce was driving with a blood alcohol content over twice the legal limit and was carrying a weapon at the time he crashed his own motorcycle. Clearly Mr. Pesce’s decision to drink to two times the legal limit, then choose to drive, and continue to carry a weapon is showing poor decisions being made sequentially. If he knew he was going drinking, why was he carrying a weapon at all? How do you get a BAC over 0.16 at 1 p.m.?

When you add those poor choices to his decision to commit domestic violence in 2017, Mr. Pesce clearly needs to be given a punishment which sends him a strong message to change his decision making process. Why was Cass County Judge Stacey Rentfrow so lenient on Pesce? I think the judge owes both the Cass County and Berrien County residents that explanation.

There is no excuse for being soft on someone driving twice the legal limit. Why no jail time, no ignition interlock device, no confiscation of his weapon? What prompted the judge to dismiss the weapons charge and why did the prosecuting attorney agree with that decision? If you don’t enforce gun laws, they don’t work, it’s that simple.

Why did the Berrien County court system allow Pesce’s domestic violence conviction to be retracted after his probation was completed for that conviction? Why weren’t the weapons in his house confiscated at the time of his domestic violence conviction? Why wasn’t his CPL license revoked at that time?

This whole situation smells of preferential treatment for people who are held in high regard because of the position they hold in the community. Both the Berrien County and Cass County courts are sending a message that if you are in a position of high regard in the community, we’ll give you a break. That is an unacceptable message. Someone without this status clearly would have had a much different outcome than Mr. Pesce did. I request The Herald-Palladium dig deeper into this matter to root out this preferential treatment and the ghosts that treatment hides.

If you are outraged by this situation, please send your complaints to the judges and prosecuting attorneys who handled these cases.

Rob Hoffman Jr.