Marion man enters plea in criminal enterprise, breaking and enterings case
OSCEOLA COUNTY — The trial for a Marion man accused of numerous breaking and enterings in Osceola County was canceled after the defendant entered a plea.
Joseph Blake Cruson, 39, was set to stand trial on Tuesday, June 20, in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court, but instead a plea agreement was reached with prosecutors.
Cruson had four separate but related cases with various felony charges in Osceola County. He and two other men were arrested in February after police discovered hundreds of items of stolen property. The trio was believed to be connected to dozens of break-ins which had occurred between September 2016 and February 2017 throughout Osceola County.
In his first case, Cruson was charged with two counts of breaking and entering with intent and one count of second-degree home invasion.
Cruson later was charged with one count of operating/maintaining a laboratory used to manufacture methamphetamine, one count of purchasing/possessing ephedrine/pseudoephederine to make methamphetamine and one count of maintaining a drug house. These charges stemmed from two active methamphetamine labs which were found when police executed a search warrant and uncovered the extensive amount of stolen property.
In another case, Cruson was charged with one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of second-degree home invasion and seven counts of breaking and entering with intent.
He also was charged with two counts of attempting to bribe/intimidate/interfere with a case punishable by more than 10 years in prison, allegedly for actions involving contact with his co-defendant.
As part of a plea agreement reached last week, Cruson pleaded guilty to the one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of second-degree home invasion and one count of breaking and entering with intent. In exchange for his plea, the remaining charges and cases against him will be dismissed. He will be sentenced as a habitual offender.
The plea agreement calls for a minimum sentenced of five years in prison. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison. Cruson also must pay restitution with his co-defendants.
In the deal, Cruson agreed to show detectives where the remaining stolen property is, if he knows.
Cruson's co-defendants, Daniel Weaver, 47, of Marion, and James Lee Berube, 25, of Evart, also recently reached plea agreements with the Osceola County Prosecutor's Office.
They are scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, July 7, in Osceola County's 77th District Court. Cruson is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, July 21, in Osceola County's 77th District Court.
Along with the break-ins in Osceola County, there were break-ins reported in the same time period in nearby Missaukee and Clare counties. Osceola County detectives worked with other agencies to piece together the cases, which were believed to be connected.
On Feb. 17, Osceola County detectives along with detectives from Clare County, Missaukee County, Michigan State Police, the Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT) and Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) executed search warrants at several residences in Osceola County, Missaukee County and Clare County.
During the searches, police recovered hundreds of items of stolen property. These items included furniture, tools, 4-wheelers, golf carts, UTVs, boats, snowmobiles, firearms, electronics, vehicles and more. In the process of conducting the investigation and executing the search warrants, two active meth labs were discovered in Marion and processed by officers.
At this time, most of the stolen property has been returned to the owners, said Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay.