Woman in drug-selling group sentenced to probation

Woman in drug-selling group sentenced to probation

URBANA — A 20-year-old Westmont woman who joined a group of suburban Chicago men intent on selling a veritable smorgasbord of club drugs in Urbana a year ago was sentenced Wednesday to four years of probation.

"You have to understand this is a very serious crime. People call it a mistake. It is a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison," Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis told Ieya Sobolevskyte.

She was in a group of five people arrested by University of Illinois police on Feb. 2, 2013, in the parking deck of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. The group was there to peddle cocaine, Ecstasy, nitrous oxide, cannabis and LSD to college-age students attending a concert at the Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U.

A sixth person was arrested later and charged with money laundering in connection with getting money to bail one of the dealers out of the county jail.

Two of the men — Marshall Giorango, 20, and Tomas Rekasius, 21, both of Orland Park — have already been sentenced by Difanis to 12 years and nine years in prison respectively for their roles in the drug distribution. Both pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

A third, Shaji Ali, 25, of Chicago, was sentenced to two years of first-offender probation for possession of a controlled substance. The fourth, Sam Kacerovskis, 20, also of Orland Park, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to delivery Ecstasy, a Class 1 felony, and is scheduled to be sentenced April 14.

Sobolevskyte, a bank teller, told Difanis that she met Giorango and Rekasius at a concert in the Chicago area the summer before their arrests and had attended one other big concert with them before coming to Urbana in February.

When Sobolevskyte was arrested, she had 44 MDMA pills on her. She pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver Ecstasy.

Under questioning by her attorney, Tom Bruno of Urbana, Sobolevskyte said "she was being stupid" when she came to Urbana with the others last year and was not thinking about how her actions would hurt others, including her father, who was in the courtroom with her. Sobolevskyte said her mother died about 10 years ago, two years after her family immigrated to the United States from Lithuania. Her father is an electrician who speaks little English, she said.

Since her arrest, she said she has resumed taking college courses, gotten a job as a bank teller and done volunteer work with disabled children.

The latter experience, she said, made her realize "how good I had it. I kept blaming everyone else. I realized how messed up everything was. I'm trying to get back on track."

Sobolevskyte also cooperated with UI police Detective Sgt. Joe McCullough in his investigation of the group.

Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Carlson acknowledged that Sobolevskyte had no prior criminal record but called her first conviction "quite significant" and said a message of deterrence needed to be sent to others who deal "extremely dangerous drugs to an impressionable audience."

Carlson recommended a sentence to the Department of Corrections' boot camp program or, in the alternative, six months in the county jail.

But Bruno said his client didn't need to be locked up to realize the gravity of what she had done. He said she was already learning from her mistake and called her Class 1 felony conviction "a ball and chain" that would follow her for life.

Sobolevskyte told Difanis she had "really changed," had no interest in using drugs or doing anything bad and did not want to lose the job she now has.

"This defendant isn't the only naive young person out there willing to distribute Ecstasy," Difanis said, calling the crime "outrageous" but saying she was not dangerous.

Difanis warned Sobolevskyte that if she fouled up her probation, she'd be looking at a lengthy prison sentence.

"If you're tempted and want to hang around bums, thugs and drug dealers ... you owe me 15 years. I will not hesitate to send you to prison," he said.

As part of her sentence, Difanis ordered her to pay just over $3,000 in fees and fines and to submit to random drug testing. He agreed to let her transfer her probation to DuPage County.

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