By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
January 22, 2010
A McHenry County judge refused to throw a Palatine man back in jail Thursday while he awaits trial on charges he ran a multimillion dollar pot growing ring, saying there is no evidence the $10,028 cash he put up as bond was earned illegally.
The decision means Phillip Koeckritz, 35, of the 200 block of Bothwell Street, will remain free pending trial on multiple felony drug charges stemming from what’s believed to be the largest indoor marijuana growing operation in county history.
“The question is whether there is any suggestion the money posted as bond is the fruit of unlawful activity,” Judge Joseph Condon said. “I don’t see that.”
Claiming the money likely came from the drug trade, county prosecutors were asking Condon Thursday to void the bond Koeckritz posted Nov. 18 and put him back in jail until he posts another $10,000.
Prosecutors found Koeckritz’s bail suspect given that after his Oct. 29 arrest he claimed he did not have enough money to afford a lawyer, was unemployed, has no savings, relies on his mother for support and owes about $13,000 on credit cards.
His attorney, however, presented Condon with receipts and affidavits showing that his family and girlfriend gathered the money through a $6,000 loan from his father, another $1,028 from his mother and the rest from his girlfriend pawning jewelry.
“We have met down to the penny what the source of the money comes from,” defense lawyer George Kililis said.
Koeckritz and longtime family friend Raymond Holland are accused of growing thousands of marijuana plants, valued by police at as much as $5 million, out of rented houses in McHenry, Woodstock and Johnsburg.
Koeckritz faces charges of unlawful production of cannabis plants, conspiracy, criminal damage to property and criminal fortification of a building. Holland, 52, who has addresses in Bloomingdale Township and Palatine faces similar charges and remains in custody at the county jail. Both men have pleaded not guilty.