Authorities: Alligator, pot operation found at home
When McHenry County sheriff's deputies were executing a search warrant at a Cary home this week, they found an indoor marijuana growth operation.
They also discovered an unlikely house pet: a 5-foot-long alligator.
The alligator's owner, Nicholas R. Cosmano, 26, of the 7200 block of Owl Way, was fined $200 for violating the county's animal control ordinance and was charged with more serious counts of drug possession.
It's not the first time county officials have made such a find.
"We have exotic animals from time to time that we have to remove from homes," said Debra Quackenbush, a spokeswoman for the McHenry County Animal Control Office, which picked up the alligator. "This has happened before."
Cosmano has owned the 6-year-old female alligator from the time it was a hatchling when it was given to him as a gift, Quackenbush said.
She said the alligator was being well-cared for.
The reptile was turned over to the Chicago Herpetological Society, which will likely take it to an alligator farm, said society President Jason Hood.
The nonprofit group receives its fair share of alligators, from newborns to ones larger than the gator in Cary.
Hood said it's illegal to own an alligator in Illinois without a permit from the Department of Natural Resources, which doesn't issue many.
"It's pretty hard to house a crocodile appropriately when they reach full size," Hood said.
During the search on Wednesday, sheriff's deputies discovered 16 marijuana plants, 100 grams of processed marijuana, grow lights, ballasts, growing chemicals and various drug paraphernalia. The street value of the drugs seized was more than $2,100, police said.
Cosmano was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, unlawful manufacturing of marijuana plants and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.
His bail was set at $25,000, which means he needs $2,500 to be released while his case is pending.
He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 9 in Woodstock.
If found guilty of marijuana possession with intent to deliver -- the most serious charge he faces -- he could spend between two and five years in prison.