Man with long criminal history faces prison for strangulation.

July 1, 2020


Man with long criminal history faces prison for strangulation.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A 37-year-old Mears man with an extensive criminal background pleaded guilty to assault by strangulation Monday, June 29, in 27th Circuit Court.

Joseph Alan Riggs, of 5839 5th St., faces a prison term with a 29-month cap on his minimum term and up to 10 years maximum, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon.

Riggs held his ex-girlfriend captive in her house several hours, assaulting her last winter. He has an extensive criminal record that includes 30 prior convictions.

The incident occurred on West Polk Road in Hart Township, Feb. 29, according to Lt. Shane Hasty of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office.

Riggs, who remains lodged in the Oceana County Jail on a $75,000 cash/surety bond, appeared in court via Zoom teleconferencing due to COVID-19 precautions.

The victim in the case sustained multiple bruises throughout her body and was bitten on the cheekbone by Riggs, Hasty said.

Riggs waited in her empty house until she arrived home at approximately 2 a.m. “He held her captive for approximately 12 hours,” the lieutenant said. “They were in a former dating relationship.”

In December of 2018, Riggs was sentenced to six months in jail in 27th Circuit Court for stealing his mother’s credit card to buy beer, cigarettes and gas. He pleaded guilty to illegal use or sale of a financial transaction device. He testified that he used his mom’s credit card in Golden Township, charging approximately $200.

Riggs, who testified that in 2018 he had a cocaine problem, was ordered to enter inpatient rehabilitation after his release from jail.

His criminal history includes five felony convictions and 25 misdemeanors, Judge Robert D. Springstead said previously.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Tracking Information System, Riggs did a prison stint in 2011 for an Oceana County conviction of larceny from a person. He was sentenced to two years and eight months to 20 years, June 6, 2011. He has prior felony convictions in Michigan of uttering and publishing and cocaine possession, according to OTIS.

“I’m getting too old for this,” Riggs said during his 2018 sentencing.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 24 at 10:15 a.m.

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