Man with long criminal history sent to prison for strangulation.

August 24, 2020

Joseph Riggs

Man with long criminal history sent to prison for strangulation.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A 37-year-old Hart man with an extensive criminal background was sentenced to serve 19 months to 10 years in prison in 27th Circuit Court Monday, Aug. 24, for a conviction of assault by strangulation.

Joseph Alan Riggs, of 1444 W. Polk Rd., pleaded guilty, June 29.

“I apologize to (the victim) for what I did, and I thank her for doing this because I was getting out of control,” said Riggs.

“From the very beginning, I have fought for Joe to get help with his drug problem,” said the victim.

“He’s looking forward to getting on with this and putting it behind him,” said Riggs’ attorney Ryan Good.

The plea agreement called for 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, according to police. However, the victim said during her allocution Monday that she did not feel that she was held captive and could have gone to the neighbors for help.

Riggs 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 is 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. 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.

Judge Springstead gave him credit for 177 days served in jail.

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