Man gets 30 months in prison for role in 2019 gun, cocaine arrest in taxi

  • Charges are still pending against Christopher L. Caraway-Hahs, left, in an April 2019 arrest in Elgin, but Emelio A. Villegas, right, pleaded guilty Friday and was sentence to 30 months in prison.

    Charges are still pending against Christopher L. Caraway-Hahs, left, in an April 2019 arrest in Elgin, but Emelio A. Villegas, right, pleaded guilty Friday and was sentence to 30 months in prison.

 
 
Updated 2/18/2020 1:11 PM

A 24-year-old Elgin man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in an April 2019 arrest in Elgin in which police seized a loaded gun and a backpack containing cocaine.

Emelio A. Villegas, of the 500 block of North Crystal Street, pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in exchange for prosecutors dismissing the other charges in the case, including the most severe charges involving armed violence with a firearm, a felony that carries a minimum 15-year prison term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"There were some very mitigating circumstances and I'm not sure the state could have proven the case," said Don Zuelke, defense attorney for Villegas.

Villegas and another man, Christopher L. Caraway-Hahs, 24, of the 100 block of Highland Avenue, Waukegan, were arrested and charged April 18, 2019, with armed violence with a firearm, manufacture/delivery of cocaine, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and other felonies after a resident called police about possible drug activity in the area of Wing Street and Crystal Avenue.

According to police, Caraway-Hahs was found in a taxi and had an active warrant for his arrest. A search turned up a loaded handgun, several grams of marijuana and cocaine, several ounces of codeine cough syrup, and hydrocodone pills, police said.

The driver of the other vehicle, Villegas, was caught with marijuana and a pistol magazine loaded with ammunition, police said.

Zuelke said the case against his client was questionable, but Villegas didn't want to risk going to trial where a conviction could have resulted in a minimum 15-year term.

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Zuelke said noted the backpack containing the cocaine and loaded gun were found in the taxi, not Villegas' vehicle.

"Emelio was not even in the (taxi) at the time," Zuelke said. "Considering the facts of the case, it was a very reasonable disposition. It was a fair compromise."

Villegas had been held at the Kane County jail since his arrest and gets 303 days credit toward his prison term, which can be cut in half for good behavior. He faced a top penalty of three years in prison on the weapons charge he pleaded guilty to.

Caraway-Hahs is free on bond and due in court Feb. 28. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

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