Chicago parolee stopped on I-57 gets nine years for having gun in car

Chicago parolee stopped on I-57 gets nine years for having gun in car

URBANA — A Chicago man who tried to persuade a judge he was on his way to a more peaceful life when he was arrested with a gun in his car earlier this year was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison.

"Drugs and firearms have no business being together and no part of launching a new life," Judge Heidi Ladd told Alvin Stanton.

She agreed to recommend the 27-year-old for drug treatment in prison. He had pleaded guilty in late March to unlawful use of weapons by a felon on parole.

He admitted that on Jan. 20, he had a loaded gun in a backpack in the trunk of his car. Illinois State Police had stopped him that day on Interstate 57 just south of the University Avenue exit because he was driving too slowly and had dark tinted windows, Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach said.

Because of Stanton's nervousness, the trooper had a canine sniff around the vehicle. The dog alerted to the presence of drugs. Stanton admitted he had smoked cannabis in the car earlier that day, and handed over three small bags of cannabis that were in his groin area. Police found the loaded pistol during a search of the trunk.

Stanton's fiancee testified that he was on his way to Mattoon to move in with her to start a new life, free from the crime that plagued his Chicago neighborhood. She said he had a job waiting for him.

Assistant State's Attorney Tim Sullivan asked for the nine-year sentence, saying that Stanton was on parole for manufacture or delivery of heroin at the time he was stopped.

"This wasn't a momentary possession," he said. "He bought it two months earlier."

Sullivan said Stanton had other convictions for possession of cannabis, controlled substances and a stolen vehicle. Stanton also told the trooper he had used drugs and alcohol before starting his trip to Mattoon, Sullivan noted.

Stanton's attorney, Jamie Propps of Champaign, said her client had no violent crimes in his past and was planning to start a new life.

"He was raised by a single mom in one of the worst neighborhoods and was trying to break the cycle, trying to get away from a drug-infested environment," she said, seeking the minimum three-year prison term.

Ladd said Stanton has had prior sentences for probation, intensive probation, boot camp and straight prison time.

"He had everything in place to do well and chose not to use it," she said.

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