By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
A judge refused to lower bond Monday for a 35-year-old Palatine man a prosecutor said was the brains and money behind one of the largest indoor marijuana-growing operations in McHenry County history.
Phillip J. Koeckritz remained locked up in the McHenry County jail on a $100,000 bond after Judge Joseph Condon ruled the combination of the Palatine man’s criminal history – which includes two prior prison terms – and the serious charges he now faces makes him a flight risk.
“If he is convicted of these charges, he’s probably headed back to the Department of Corrections, and that increases his incentive to flee,” Condon said.
Koeckritz has been in the jail since his Oct. 29 arrest on allegations he and at least one other man grew thousands of cannabis plants worth millions of dollars inside rented homes in McHenry County.
“Witnesses would testify that this defendant provided the organization and financial support for this growing operation,” Assistant McHenry County State’s Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski said.
Chrzanowski noted that Koeckritz has missed as many as seven court dates on other charges. His father, the prosecutor added, heads a large international corporation and owns a $16.9 million home in Florida, giving his family access to the $10,000 he would need to post as bond to go free.
Koeckritz admitted in court he had been sentenced to prison twice before – for driving under the influence and theft – but denied missing court dates. His attorney, George Kililis, said Koeckritz has strong ties to the area that would make it unlikely for him to flee if released.
Koeckritz, of the 200 block of North Bothwell Street, faces charges of unlawful production of cannabis plants and conspiracy stemming from a nine-month investigation into the operation. If found guilty, he would face a maximum 30 years in prison.
The investigation began when police performing a well-being check at a home in McHenry discovered almost 1,500 cannabis plants growing in its basement and a bedroom, along with about 50 light fixtures, a fertilizing schedule and other items used for harvesting marijuana, Chrzanowski said.
The find led investigators to two other McHenry County homes, and one in Palatine, where police say they found more evidence of marijuana growing. Authorities say two of the homes sustained tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Arrested with Koeckritz on the same charges was Raymond T. Holland, 52, of Bloomingdale Township. He is scheduled to appear in court later this week.