An Illinois man battling stage 4 cancer has been sentenced to four years behind bars for ordering more than 40 pounds of chocolate that was laced with THC, officials say.
Thomas J. Franzen, a 37-year-old Montgomery resident, agreed on May 30 to plead guilty to the class 1 felony offense of unlawful possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis and, in exchange, was sentenced to four years in prison, the Kane County State's Attorney's Office said in a release issued Thursday.
Postal workers first noticed in February 2014 that Franzen had begun receiving suspicious packages and obtained a warrant to open one of his parcels, at which point they discovered 19,000 grams of THC-infused chocolate inside, officials said.
Authorities then obtained a warrant to search Franzen’s home, where they found cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and even more marijuana, in addition to items — like a scale and thousands of dollars in cash — that they say suggested that Franzen routinely dealt drugs, according to the release.
Prosecutors say that Franzen “sought to sell” the chocolate, the release states. However, Franzen's attorney, David Camic, said that his client, who is battling stage 4 testicular cancer, purchased the THC-infused products to treat his own symptoms, according to Fox News.
Franzen was initially facing heftier charges related to trafficking marijuana, but those charges were ultimately dropped, CNN reports.
Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said that his office reduced Franzen’s sentence in acknowledgement of his health struggles.
“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition, our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to 4 years, 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,” he said.
He went on to say that the products Franzen was found with “far exceeds what would be used for personal consumption and is evidence that he is a drug dealer.”
Franzen is alleged to have delayed his trial for five years by claiming that his diagnosis rendered him unable to submit to trial proceedings or serve time in prison, McMahon said in another statement, adding that Franzen never substantiated those claims with medical evidence.
Franzen is scheduled to return to court on June 14, where he will provide the results of medical testing to a judge, who will then decide when Franzen will begin serving out his sentence, the office said.
Just one day after Franzen was sentenced, Illinois lawmakers voted to legalize recreational usage of marijuana. Governor J.B. Pritzker has agreed to sign the bill, and the new law should go into effect in January 2020, NBC Chicago reports.
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