Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that Brian Daugherty pleaded guilty to only the felony charge of unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver. A charge of drug trafficking was dropped.
Two men who were arrested after flying nearly 170 pounds of cannabis from California to Waukegan are headed to prison, a Lake County judge ruled Monday.
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The pilot, Michael Fejer, 28, reacted with shock and cried in his wife's arms after the six-year sentence was handed down by Lake County Judge James Booras at the Lake County courthouse.
His brother, Nicholas, 24, who was also arrested by agents when the plane landed in May 2011, was sentenced to four years in prison for the same crime.
The sentences against the brothers, who are from Oceanside, came after both pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to deliver in June 2011.
Each had faced up to 15 years behind bars, but Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Willett said sentencing was delayed for more than a year after they promised to turn drug informants for agents in California.
However, Willett said, the minimal tips they gave to agents there did not result in any arrests and they were told to return to Illinois for sentencing.
Michael Fejer pleaded for mercy Monday, saying "I wish I could take back what I did, but I can't. All I can ask for is mercy now and beg of you to let me stay on probation."
However, Booras was not swayed, pointing out the 170 pounds of pot flown to Waukegan would have been detrimental to the people of Illinois.
"Bringing in a plane full of marijuana shows me you were not thinking about your actions and, instead, just seeing dollar signs," Booras said. "You could have caused serious harm to the people of Illinois through your actions."
Brian Daugherty, 31, of Aurora, was considered the mastermind of the deal that brought the marijuana to Waukegan.
Daugherty had purchased the pot with a street value of nearly $250,000 in California, then paid $70,000 for a $90,000 airplane and gave it to Michael Fejer to fly.
After the plane was purchased in California, the Fejer brothers loaded it with the cannabis and flew to Waukegan. However, Lake County MEG agents were tipped off to the delivery and met the plane at the airport when it landed.
The Fejer brothers immediately admitted to the crime when they were arrested, but worked with drug agents and told Daugherty to go to the hanger and pick up the marijuana in Waukegan.
He was arrested by MEG agents, Willett said, and police confiscated more than $600,000 in cash in Daugherty's possession.
Daugherty, 30, formerly of the 1000 block of Chelsea Lane, pleaded guilty possession of cannabis with intent to deliver earlier this year, and was sentenced earlier this month to 10 years in prison.