Algonquin man guilty in record-breaking pot operation

Updated 1/15/2013 6:16 PM
  • Marcelino Villa-Rodriguez

    Marcelino Villa-Rodriguez

An Algonquin man accused of growing the largest marijuana crop ever found at a DuPage County forest preserve has been ordered to pay $7,500 for damages he caused to the property.

Marcelino Villa-Rodriguez, 29, also must serve two years of probation after pleading guilty Tuesday to unlawful production of cannabis, authorities said.

Police found the crop in a heavily wooded area of Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve near Wayne in September while looking for illegal deer-hunting stands. They described it as the largest organized cultivation site ever uncovered in a DuPage preserve, with 316 plants valued at more than $1.4 million.

Authorities arrested Villa-Rodriguez after they caught him pruning several cannabis plants. Police said he kept an additional 7 pounds of harvested marijuana at an off-site storage shed.

In exchange for his plea, Villa-Rodriguez was sentenced to two years of probation and a 180-day jail term, which already was considered completed because of time served since his arrest.

DuPage Judge Kathryn Creswell also ordered him to pay $7,500 in restitution to the DuPage County Forest Preserve District for cleanup efforts at Pratt's Wayne Woods, prosecutors said.

Had he been convicted of the felony charge at trial, Villa-Rodriguez could have faced up to 15 years in prison.

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