ST. CHARLES – A Montgomery cancer patient was taken into custody June 14 to begin serving his four-year sentence after pleading guilty to a reduced charged of possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis.
Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of the 900 block of Harmony Drive in Montgomery, received a package containing more than 40 pounds of marijuana-infused chocolates through the U.S. Postal Service in February of 2014. Kane County prosecutors alleged that he was trying to sell the candy, but Franzen's attorney, David Camic, said his client was using the edibles to ease the pain associated with cancer treatment.
Camic said that Franzen thanked Kane County Circuit Court Judge Clint Hull for his understanding and compassion in court. Franzen was sentenced on May 30, but Hull gave him two weeks to get additional medical care before being taken into custody.
"Franzen scheduled doctor's appointments and put his affairs in order before beginning his sentence," Camic said. "He and his family are guardedly optimistic that he will be able to serve his sentence without any serious adverse consequences to his health. The (Illinois) Department of Corrections has an obligation to take care of him, and they will decide the care he gets while in prison."
Franzen had also been charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a substance containing cocaine and the most serious charge, trafficking more than 5,000 grams of cannabis, which carries a minimum 12-year prison sentence. Those charges were subsequently dropped in the plea agreement.
According to a press release from the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, prosecutors stated in court that postal workers, having noticed a pattern of suspicious parcels being delivered to Franzen, obtained a search warrant and opened a package sent from a California address that was addressed to Franzen.
According to the release, police found more than 19,000 grams of chocolate infused with THC.
Authorities served a search warrant at Franzen’s home and inside his bedroom they found cocaine, more than 100 additional grams of marijuana, along with items that are known to be evidence of drug dealing, including a digital scale, more than $2,000 in cash, ledgers used to track drug sales, materials used for drug packaging and numerous postal receipts for parcels he had mailed to locations across the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, authorities found cannabis hash oil and other drug paraphernalia.
Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon stated in the release that his office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to 4 years, "in recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition. ... of which he is required to serve only 2 years. We did this in spite of evidence that proves that Mr. Franzen is a drug dealer."
“Evidence from state and federal investigators shows that he has purchased and sold marijuana products across North America. In addition to the evidence found in his home, we also have evidence that he had received multiple packages that raised the suspicion of postal inspectors prior to his receiving the package that led to his arrest," McMahon stated in the release.
Camic agreed that Hull had been "very kind" when sentencing Franzen.
"[Franzen] is expected to serve less than half of the sentence," he said. "We'd hoped to convince the prosecution to give him probation. The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him some sort of break, but 40 pounds of cannabis is a lot."
Camic said that Franzen does not plan to appeal his sentence.