By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
A few weeks after swearing to a judge that he had no job, no money and no assets, a Palatine man accused of operating a multimillion-dollar marijuana-growing operation came up with $10,000 cash to make bail.
Now McHenry County prosecutors are demanding Phillip Koeckritz come back to court and show he is now a free man thanks to drug money.
The McHenry County state’s attorney filed a motion last week seeking a “source of bail” hearing at which Koeckritz, 35, will be asked to explain how he came up with the cash to go free Nov. 18 while he awaits trial on six felony drug charges.
In court papers, prosecutors indicate they find Koeckritz’s posting of bail suspect given that he cried poor after his Oct. 29 arrest in a sworn affidavit asking for a public defender to represent him. In that affidavit, Koeckritz said he is unemployed, has no savings, relies on his mother for support and owes about $13,000 on credit cards.
“The sum of $10,000 posted as bond in this matter is the fruit of criminal or unlawful conduct on the part of the defendant, specifically proceeds from the unlawful production and distribution of cannabis,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski wrote in the motion.
Koeckritz’s attorney, George Kililis, called the prosecution’s request “silly,” noting that the state three weeks ago provided evidence in court that the Palatine man’s father heads a large multinational corporation and owns a $16.9 million oceanfront estate in Florida.
“They know full well how wealthy his family is, and the evidence will show that’s where this money came from,” Kililis said. “This is a waste of everybody’s time.”
Koeckritz, of the 200 block of North Bothwell Street, faces charges of unlawful production of cannabis plants, conspiracy, criminal damage to property and criminal fortification of a building stemming from a nine-month investigation into what’s believed to be the largest-ever indoor marijuana-growing operation in McHenry County. He formally pleaded not guilty Monday and asked for a jury trial on charges that could put him behind bars for up to 30 years.
Authorities allege Koeckritz and at least one other man rented homes in the county and converted them into growing houses, often severely damaging the properties in the process.
The investigation began when police performing a well-being check at a home in McHenry discovered almost 1,500 cannabis plants – valued by police at a minimum $1.5 million – growing in its basement and a bedroom. Police said they later found evidence of an even larger and more valuable growing effort in an abandoned and trashed house in Woodstock.
Arrested with Koeckritz on similar charges was Raymond T. Holland, 52, who has addresses in Bloomingdale Township and Palatine. Holland, who remains in custody on a $60,000 bond, also has pleaded not guilty.