Man sentenced to 8 years in cannabis case

URBANA — An Urbana man who had several pounds of cannabis intended for sale has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Mark A. Cruz, 53, whose last known local address was in the 1400 block of Cottage Grove Avenue, pleaded guilty Tuesday before Judge Tom Difanis to possession with intent to deliver between 2,000 and 5,000 grams of cannabis.

In return for his plea, other counts alleging that he illegally possessed guns were dismissed.

The charges stemmed from Cruz's arrest last summer. In late July, a man subleasing a home from Cruz in the 1000 block of South Cottage Grove called police after finding four loaded rifles, a loaded handgun and ammunition in the detached garage of Cruz's home. The guns were discovered to have been stolen in a car theft Sept. 21 in Urbana.

After learning about the stolen guns, Urbana police watched the house where Cruz was living in the 1400 block of South Cottage Grove. When he left there on July 30, police stopped the truck and found, in the covered bed, about four pounds of cannabis, packaging materials and $29,000 cash. Inside his home they found another $2,500 cash and an additional 1 1/2 pounds of cannabis.

Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar said it appeared that Cruz was letting someone else store the guns in his garage and that he never had any direct contact with them.

Lozar said Cruz had prior convictions for driving under the influence, driving under revocation and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

In September, Charles Christakis, 53, who was living with Cruz, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver 2.5 to 10 grams of cannabis, and was sentenced to 18 months of conditional discharge. Christakis was found to be involved in helping Cruz move the cannabis on the day of Cruz's arrest.

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woopitydo wrote on February 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm

So he gets 8 yrs jail time for selling pot... Another story from today shows a child molestor gets 3 yrs probation.... I just dont get it.

Bulldogmojo wrote on February 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

"In return for his plea, other counts alleging that he illegally possessed guns were dismissed."

Brilliant! give him a pass on the guns but not the pot. I'm assuming since the second amendment is a "god given" right and who are these prosecutors to challenge god. Priorities out of wack.

The ol' "I was just holding those guns for a friend" defense

ilpatriot wrote on February 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Excerpt from Project Safe Neighborhoods.

USING, CARRYING, OR POSSESSING A FIREARM IN CONNECTION WITH A DRUG-TRAFFICKING CRIME OR CRIME OF VIOLENCE

Whether or not you have ever been convicted of any crime, if you use or brandish, display, carry, or possess a firearm in relation to a drug-trafficking crime or a federal crime of violence, you can be charged - in addition to the crime itself - with a firearms crime. In fact, you can be convicted of this offense even if the gun is not on your person! The minimum sentence you can get for this crime is five years, with no parole. This sentence is in addition to any other sentence for the drug trafficking or violent crime. A person convicted of a second count of this offense - even during the same trial - will automatically receive another 25 years.

STOLEN GUNS

If you steal guns or possess guns that you have reasonable cause to believe were stolen, you can go to prison for up to 10 years.

Dear States Attorney and US Attorney help stop gun crime by enforcing existing firearms laws.

 

hjw8383 wrote on February 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I hear that!  Pretty sad... I can't get past them dropping the charges for the illegal guns, but kept the charges for the pot?????

Wingman wrote on February 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm

They didn't have enough to convict on the gun charges.  They were in an unattached garage of a house he no longer lived in.........BTW he wasn't the only one with access to the garage.

oyvey wrote on February 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Sad that you get 8 years for selling a plant, yet car jacking gives you probation.

Bulldogmojo wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Agreed, aren't lawyers just the most hateable people