Appeals court upholds 60-year sentence for Aurora drug dealer
An appeals court has upheld a 60-year prison term and $3 million drug fine imposed on an Aurora man who was caught with 20 pounds of heroin in his home in what is one of Kane County's largest drug busts.
Modesto Alarcon, 46, argued in his appeal that police searched his house illegally in spring 2014 and that Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler abused his discretion in the sentence.
The appellate panel unanimously disagreed in its opinion issued on Tuesday.
"It is simply not our role to reweigh such considerations and second guess the trial court. Rather, on appeal, it is defendant's burden to convince us that no reasonable person could argue that a 60-year sentence is appropriate. Defendant has not met that burden here," the panel wrote.
Alarcon was arrested in spring 2014 after police searched his home on the 1000 block of Grove Street and seized heroin with an estimated value of $1.35 million.
Alarcon's lawyer argued that his client never gave authorities consent to search his home and detached garage, where the drugs were found. Tegeler upheld the legality of the search and Alarcon was convicted in a bench trial and sentenced to prison in February 2016.
At the sentencing, prosecutors called Kane County Coroner Robert Russell to testify about the dangers of the drug, prompting Tegeler to voice his conclusion that Alarcon was not a "low-level" dealer and estimating the drugs could have been broken down to tens of thousands of heroin doses.
"Heroin has no medicinal purposes, absolutely none, in the form I am looking at it. I have 20 pounds of heroin here that is probably capable of ruining many, many lives in this locale. Even if it doesn't kill the person, it can take away the person's soul," read part of the court transcript. "It can take away their family, their income, their house, everything they ever worked for."
Alarcon argued that the judge abused his discretion in wanting to "send a message," especially since prosecutors argued for a 45-year prison term at sentencing and 60 years was the maximum.
The appellate panel again disagreed, saying "it was clear that the trial court was referring to sending a message that the sort of conduct engaged in by the defendant will not be tolerated rather than a message about the dangers of heroin generally."
Under state law, Alarcon can have his sentence cut in half for good behavior and is scheduled for release in March 2044, when he will be 72.