By JILLIAN DUCHNOWSKI
January 22, 2010
WOODSTOCK – A 36-year-old Palatine man accused of running a large-scale marijuana growing operation walked out of the McHenry County Courthouse on Thursday after prosecutors unsuccessfully challenged his bail.
Prosecutors attacked Phillip Koeckritz’ girlfriend’s claims that she gathered just more than $10,000 to pay his bail and sheriff’s processing fee in November by pawning jewelry, selling gold jewelry and coins, and using a diamond engagement ring to secure a $6,000 loan from Koeckritz’ father. His mother also chipped in $1,038.
But prosecutors did not present any evidence directly supporting their claims that the money came from the illegal production and distribution of marijuana. They asked Judge Joseph Condon to hold the money posted and send Koeckritz back to jail until he could post legitimately obtained money; he refused.
Koeckritz has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges in connection with a McHenry house where police found 1,438 plants with an estimated street value of $1.5 million in January 2009.
Police also have said they believed he and another man ran similar operations in other rented homes in three counties.
Julie Kawako, who said she dated Koeckritz on and off for four years, posted the $10,000 bail for Koeckritz on Nov. 18. That was about a week after Condon refused Koeckritz’ request to halve the bail amount.
Koeckritz also had requested and received a special public defender after indicating that he had no real estate or cars and about $13,000 in credit-card debt.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski questioned how Kawako could have presented the $10,000 in bills of $100 or higher at the jail when the receipts indicated amounts such as $1,440 and $750. He also pointed to a discrepancy between the $8,000 loan amount Koeckritz’ father mentioned in a letter and the $6,000 loan amount others identified.
But Condon said there was no evidence presented at the hearing to suggest Kawako used the exact bills she received from the pawn shop to post the bail.