A 35-year-old East Dundee man was sentenced to nine years in prison this week after being convicted of possessing cocaine near an Elgin park in March 2017, intending to sell it, and scuffling with police who arrested him.
In a December 2017 bench trial, Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler convicted Maurice Wheeler Jr. of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a park, and resisting a police officer, both felonies.
The most severe charge against Wheeler, of the 200 block of Van Buren Lane, carried a prison term of six to 30 years.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that at about 11 p.m. March 31, police saw Wheeler and a front-seat passenger acting suspiciously in a car parked at Meyer Street and Jane Drive. The location is within 1,000 feet of Cornerstone Park on the city's west side.
As police approached the car, they smelled marijuana smoke and asked Wheeler to exit his car, but he ran instead. Police found 7.9 grams of cocaine on Wheeler when they caught him, and seized two scales and other drugs from the car. An officer sustained an eye injury during the scuffle. Wheeler also admitted to police he would provide drugs for his friends, prosecutors said.
Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Whitfield argued Thursday for an 18-year term, saying Wheeler has contempt and disrespect for authority and failed to complete probation on two other felony convictions.
"He's a career drug dealer based on his history," Whitfield said. "He blames everyone but himself. He's in this position because of his own actions."
Assistant Public Defender Julia Yetter argued for a six-year term, saying Wheeler is an addict, not a dealer, and is very involved and supportive of his children. "This is not someone who is a career criminal," Yetter said.
Under state law, Wheeler can have his prison term cut in half for good behavior and he gets credit for nearly 11 month held at the county jail.