9 years in prison for Urbana man stopped with gun in car

9 years in prison for Urbana man stopped with gun in car

URBANA — An Urbana man was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison for possessing a loaded gun in a car in Champaign earlier this year.

Robert Wheeler’s plea to possession of firearm by a felon before Judge Heidi Ladd headed off a trial on more serious charges of armed violence, being an armed habitual criminal and having cannabis intended for sale.

All those charges were dismissed in return for his plea to the weapons charge. Also dismissed was a separate 2016 case in which he was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

A Champaign police report said Wheeler, 34, who listed an address in the 2400 block of Prairie Green Drive, was stopped May 5 at White Street and Prospect Avenue for an alleged traffic violation.

An officer could smell cannabis and Wheeler, the driver, admitted he had been smoking it and didn’t have a valid driver’s license.

A search of the car turned up a loaded 9 mm pistol under the center console, 51 grams of suspected cannabis, a digital scale, plastic bags, four cellphones and $175. Police also found $1,894 in Wheeler’s pants pocket.

Court records show Wheeler had previous convictions for attempted armed robbery, criminal sexual abuse, obstructing justice, aggravated battery, failure to register as a sex offender, unlawful use of weapons by a felon and driving under revocation.

Ladd agreed to allow Wheeler to remain free until Tuesday, when he is to turn himself in to begin his sentence. He was also ordered to pay more than $800 in fines and costs.

A passenger in the car with Wheeler, Aaron Harris, 24, still faces charges of possession with intent to deliver cannabis, being an armed habitual criminal and armed violence. He’s due back in court Sept. 25.

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