An Elgin man Tuesday was sentenced to 15 years in prison after his conviction earlier this year of possession of 30,000 Ecstasy pills that authorities estimate were worth $450,000.
Agustin Velasquez, 27, of the 200 block of Comstock Drive, could have received up to 60 years in prison after authorities did a search of his trash and found the pills bundled in various plastic bags in January 2010.
Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon, who convicted Velasquez in August of possession of more than 1,500 ecstasy pills with intent to deliver, issued the sentence.
Velazquez must serve 75 percent of his sentence, or a little more than 11 years, and gets credit for 265 days spent in the Kane County jail. He also must pay $202,055 in fines and fees.
“This is how he was supporting himself,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Orland argued to Sheldon. “We believe (a 15-year sentence) is necessary to deter others from thinking that this is the way to a lifestyle you would like.”
Prosecutors said authorities were doing a “garbage pull” of Velasquez’ outdoors trash can as part of an investigation into marijuana dealing. Instead, they found the pills in the trash and got a search warrant for the rest of his home. Authorities watched him return to the empty can and become visibly upset as someone apparently took out the wrong garbage can for the waste hauler to empty.
Prosecutors also argued that Velasquez admitted that he fronted a dealer $4 per pill, or $120,000, with plans to sell them.
Velasquez’s defense attorney, Richard Kayne, argued that his client was only guilty of possessing the pills and that at one point he planned to sell them, but couldn’t find buyers and wanted to return the drugs to the dealer.
Kayne also argued that Velasquez’ defense attorney in the August 2012 trial provided ineffective representation because he did not try and fight the arrest itself and statements Velasquez made to police. Kayne argued that a Des Plaines officer, who was part of the drug task force investigating Velasquez, was later fired for misconduct.
Velasquez also testified Tuesday the officer had threatened to charge and jail Velazquez’s girlfriend on drug charges unless he confessed.
“Anybody could have but (the pills) in (the trash). The officers never testified they saw Agustin put them in the garbage,” Kayne said.
Sheldon dismissed the motion for a new trial, saying the former Des Plaines officer did not testify during trial, and did not collect or catalog any evidence in the case.
Sheldon also said the decisions by Velasquez’ previous attorney came down to trial strategy and not ineffective counsel.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.