NAPERVILLE, Ill. (STMW) – Chang H. Chen apparently thought he’d finally be getting out of DuPage County Jail this week.
It turns out if he had, he’d simply have traded one jailhouse cell for another.
The 40-year-old Chinese citizen and resident of Chicago is the reputed mastermind of a $10 million marijuana-cultivating operation. Federal and local law enforcement agents in August seized nearly 8,000 marijuana plants Chen and two associates were allegedly growing in three houses they had rented in Naperville and Bolingbrook.
Chen faces trial in DuPage County Circuit Court on a felony charge of unlawful production or possession of more than 200 cannabis sativa plants. He was jailed on a $1 million bond following his Aug. 23 arrest.
Judge George J. Bakalis on Oct. 25 granted Chen’s motion to reduce that bond by half, to $500,000, said Paul Darrah, spokesman for DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett. Two of Chen’s relatives on Monday presented Bakalis with checks totaling $50,000, the mandatory 10 percent of his new bond.
But Chen remained jailed Tuesday night, after prosecutors learned of a $1 million warrant for his arrest in Will County.
Charles B. Pelkie, spokesman for Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, confirmed Tuesday that Chen faces trial in Joliet on two Class X felony charges of unlawful possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis with the intent to deliver. He is also charged with two felony counts of unlawful production of cannabis sativa plants, Pelkie said.
A Class X felony carries a mandatory sentence of six to 30 years in prison upon conviction.
Will County authorities have placed a “hold” on Chen. Should he post bail and be released from DuPage County Jail, he would automatically be taken to Will County Jail, where he would need to come up with an additional $100,000 in bail, or 10 percent of his million-dollar bond.
One of the houses where the marijuana was allegedly being farmed is on the 2500 block of Whitehall Lane, in the Summerfield/Mission Oaks area of far west-central Naperville. The others are on the 200 block of Fox Bend Circle and the 500 block of Tallgrass Drive in Bolingbrook.
Chen was allegedly assisted in the operation by Mingdi Lu, 30, a citizen of China; and Jinzu Shi, 51, of Chicago.
Lu as of Aug. 25 was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It could not be learned Tuesday whether he has been returned to China or is facing deportation proceedings.
Shi pleaded guilty Oct. 12 in Will County Circuit Court to a charge of unlawful production of cannabis sativa plants. Court records indicated he was sentenced that day to 100 days in jail, placed on a year of conditional discharge and assessed $300 in fines and court costs.
Chen is scheduled to return Nov. 29 to DuPage County Circuit Court. His arraignment date in the Will County case is pending.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)