Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Drug Kingpin Who Barely Got...
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The Drug Kingpin Who Barely Got By

No cement pond, no BMW or lavish lifestyle for Mancelona dealer

Patrick Sullivan - November 26th, 2012  


Wallace Bigger brought thousands upon thousands of pills to Northern Michigan, made thousands of dollars distributing them through a network of dealers, and perhaps turned at least one addict into a prostitute.

The drug operation saw untold numbers of morphine and Dilaudid pills prescribed by a doctor in Saginaw brought to Antrim County and sold out of trailers, a camper, and an apartment above a pizza store in Mancelona.

But the 71-year-old was by no means getting rich from his backwoods prescription drug cartel. From what lawyers said at his sentencing in Bellaire on Nov. 19, Bigger barely got by.

There was testimony Bigger earned over $20,000, which is a large amount of money if it’s sitting in front of you on a table, but not much if it’s what’s made over a couple of years.

In fact, Bigger’s attorney, Philip Settles, said at the hearing that for the past couple of years, Bigger has been living in “squalor beyond my imagination.”

Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers went further, telling Bigger: “Did you live a big lifestyle? Were you sitting out next to the cement pond with a BMW parked in the driveway? No, you weren’t. You lived a pretty crummy lifestyle, from time to time in a camper in your daughter’s front driveway. But it didn’t stop you from being manipulative. It didn’t stop you from abusing other people.”

‘WILL NOT ADMIT TO NOTHING’

Bigger was defiant at the hearing, even as he braced for a lengthy prison sentence which almost certainly means he will die in prison.

“I did not sell drugs, and I will not admit to nothing,” Bigger told Rodgers.

He blamed his conviction on a failing of the criminal justice system.

“When I asked for my lawyer to be fired, because he wasn’t doing what I asked, you denied it three times. I said a mistrial should have been called, and just start all over. Witnesses I got can clear me. I believe the judge is biased and I said right from the start, Antrim County would not give me a fair trial. And I did not get a fair trial. And I got a screwy lawyer. So there. That’s it.”

Rodgers was unmoved and sentenced Bigger to 15 to 30 years on one of the charges, conspiracy to deliver narcotics, plus another four to 20 years on five other charges which Bigger will have to serve if he survives the first sentence.

Among other crimes, a jury found Bigger guilty of conducting a criminal enterprise.

‘NOT IN THE STARS, BUT IN OURSELVES’

Rodgers excoriated Bigger for the harm he’d done in keeping open a pipeline of prescription drugs into Antrim County for a couple of years.

Bigger was charged along with numerous others after a Traverse Narcotics Team investigation led to an investigative subpoena process, overseen by James Rossiter, an assistant prosecutor for Antrim County, that saw numerous people brought in to be questioned behind closed doors about what they knew about drug dealing in the area.

The sweeping investigation followed numerous drug overdose deaths in the area.

Rodgers said the evidence presented in Bigger’s trial in October convinced him of Bigger’s guilt.

“It’s your attorney’s fault, it’s the judge’s fault,” Rodgers said, commenting on Bigger’s knack for blaming everyone but himself. “There’s a line from Shakespeare that might benefit you -- ‘the fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.’” He called Bigger the “ragtag leader of a wholesale drug operation, with a number of ragtag retail sellers who themselves have been addicts, selling to support their own habits. One of them I think has become a prostitute as a result of this. You have visited a lot of misery on a lot of other people.”

‘ISN’T A BUSINESS FOR OLD MEN’

It came out during the investigation that Bigger married a now-34-year-old woman during his time as a dealer.

Bigger manipulated the woman into marriage when she was high, Rodgers said, and during the trial, the woman said she didn’t even recall the marriage.

“I listened to the testimony of your wife who... said she was high when she married you, which doesn’t surprise me,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know what you’ve come to believe in your own mind the attraction is between the two of you, other than Dilaudid.”

Bigger’s attorney, Settles, didn’t try to argue that Bigger didn’t deserve a stiff punishment.

Rather, Settles argued, before Rodgers handed down the sentence, that perhaps it didn’t make sense, from a tax-payer’s point-of-view, to lock up such an old man for the rest of his life.

“For what purpose? Is he going to come out and be the desperado that he was before? I don’t think he’s going to,” Settles said. “Certainly, it isn’t a business for old men. He hasn’t gotten any younger while he’s been in jail for these past several months.”

Rossiter, the prosecutor, said it was important to send Bigger away as a signal to anyone else who might try to fill the void left in Bigger’s absence.

HIS PAST CAUGHT UP WITH HIM

One of the co-defendants who testified against Bigger was sentenced the same day.

Jason Craig Blackmore, 29, sold prescription pills out of his apartment above his father’s pizza store in Mancelona.

His attorney, Sean Liles, noted how Blackmore had gotten himself clean and out of the drug world before he was caught and said he should get a break because he cooperated. He asked for probation sentence.

Blackmore had turned down the first plea deal he was offered, Rossiter said, a deal that would have likely ended with some jail and probation. Now he was looking at a prison sentence.

After the more serious charges were filed, Rossiter said Blackmore became more cooperative. Perhaps he reconciled the fact that he could not outrun his past.

Rossiter said Blackmore should spend at least some time in prison because of the depth of his involvement in drug crimes.

‘THIS IS THE LAST HURDLE’

Blackmore spoke emotionally to the judge.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “Most of which I have acknowledged and tried to put behind me. I feel that this is the last hurdle... to close that chapter in my life.”

He said the birth of his son changed him. “In April of 2010, as you have already heard, I found out I was going to be a father. I was approximately two weeks sober at that time. When I found out I was going to be a dad, I made a promise to not only myself and my fiancee, our families, that I was done with drugs. I was done with the lifestyle. My son will be two years old in January, and I’ve succeeded in keeping that promise.

Rodgers sentenced him to 23 months to 20 years in prison, and made him eligible for boot camp. He agreed with Rossiter that Blackmore deserved more punishment than probation.

Rodgers called Blackmore one “of the people who tried to do right out of this mess,” but Blackmore only came around slowly.

Boot camp would mean Blackmore could get out of prison early and spend time in a military-like setting.

The only thing that could jeopardize that would be if Blackmore behaves poorly in prison, so Rodgers warned him about his first days there: “You need to be careful. You need to keep your head down and your mouth shut.”

 
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