Alleged Pot Growing Mastermind Stays In Jail

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.)

  • VERB

    Seriously? All this for weed? There are real criminals committing real crimes. This here is BS. FREE CHEN!!!

  • Joel Morales

    For real, this is where our tax dollars are going to. 30 years for growing pot? How about 30 years for corrupt goverment officials?

  • DeCriminalize

    This arrest goes to show just how powerful the drug pushing LIQUOR CORPORATIONS are at bribing our crooked Politicians to persecute citizens who prefer Pot instead of Booze.

  • ranman

    a plant that is natural and here before we were……
    We need to throw out EVERY Politician and vote in
    NORML people.

  • twt

    Joe Birkett connects his name to another BS charge. I want to see which one of the cronies gets the house. The public will never see it auctioned off.

  • MDA

    War on Marijuana = Money Machine for municipalities, unconstitutional drug laws, Big Business for prisons (and private prisons), corrupt law enforcement, forcing sick people to take deadly, addictive pharmaceutical drugs, suppressing use of hemp for valuable, everyday use, etc…

    Did you know that heroin metabolizes as morphine? So people forced to take morphine for pain management quickly become heroin addicts.

    If you’re pro-alcohol and anti-marijuana, please educate yourself on the history of marijuana and hemp in this country, and go and actually talk to the folks who are using medical marijuana. They are your neighbors. Deprogram yourself from the propaganda and make an objective, well-informed decision.

  • Andre009

    NORML is an acronym for the non-profit National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws….YOU MENTAL MIDGET.

    You’re a textbook example of uneducated narrow-mindedness.

    Go drink yourself into a stupor.

  • martymcfly

    haha, sean dougherty got treated. what a moron.

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