Thursday, December 13, 2012

Drug case smells fishy to me

On December 3, 2012, a sheriff's deputy stopped a vehicle in the Crystal Lake area, and SURPRISE! What do you know? 75 pounds of cannabis. Street value $290,000.

A media release from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department praised Deputy (Eric) Woods for his traffic stop on a 2011 Mercedes Sprinter van. Why did Woods stop the van? Just because it had California plates? A K-9 unit "arrived" on the scene. Was it called? Did it "just happen" to be in the area?

The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics, and the van was searched.

Michael P. Karavastev, 38, of Sunnyvale, California, got nailed with three State felonies: Trafficking (bringing drugs from Reno, Nevada into Illinois), Unlawful Possession of 5,000 grams or more of cannabis, and Unlawful Possession with Intent to Deliver. As might be expected, the Sprinter van was impounded, along with at least three cell phones. (Who carries three cell phones these days???)

Judge Weech explained Karavastev's rights to him in Jail Court on December 4, and soon after Karavastev posted $8,000 bond.

Judge Graham denied him a Public Defender on December 7.

Now, get this... Also on December 7, Judge Graham ordered the Sheriff's Department to return the Sprinter and the three cell phones to Karavastev. Look closely at the Order for Return: "The Defendant having entered into a negotiated plea of guilty..." The good judge ordered the return of the van and cell phones "On or after 12-7-12 (no less than 31 days from date of plea).

How did Karavestev get such good treatment in court without an attorney?

On December 11 Attorney Bill Bligh, of the Law Firm of David Gervais, filed an Appearance to represent Karavastev, and an Court Order was issued, allowing Karavestev to travel to his home in Sunnyvale, California.

And a preliminary hearing is set for January 28, 2013, at 9:00AM. Isn't a preliminary hearing one at which you enter a plea? But the December 7th Order for Return of property reads that he has entered a negotiated plea of guilty. What am I missing here?

And whoever heard of a drug case in which a vehicle is impounded (seized) and then returned within four days?

Why aren't there Federal charges in this case? Interstate transportatiion of illegal drugs? Possession of $290,000 worth of drugs? Karavastec is charged with "5,000 grams or more". Five thousand grams is 11 pounds. If he had 75 pounds of cannabis, then he had 34,019 grams (34 kg.).

And the State's Attorney let the Court give back his vehicle?

Did he already get the vehicle and phones and head back to Sunnyvale for the holidays with his family? How nice...

What about the part of the Order for Return that reads "(no less than 31 days from date of plea)"? If he was arrested December 3, he couldn't have the vehicle yet. Could he?

And where's the ticket for the traffic violation for which Dep. Woods stopped Karavestec? What was the violation?

Is this case headed down the royal drain?


Joseph Monack said...

1. Drug sniffing dogs come out really quick if you're pulled over. The cops routinely get drug sniffing dogs for "suspicious" people.
2. Who would carry three cell phones? A drug dealer worried about being tracked.
3. About the good deal. Yeah, that's strange. People don't get their vehicles back so quickly if ever and I'm speaking of dealers with nowhere near 75 lbs so I have no idea what to say about that one.
4. You'd actually be surprised how many times people get pulled over for no reason. Illegal? Maybe. Does it happen. Yes.
That is all.

Big Daddy said...

Gus,perhaps he is now an employee of the government. Maybe. Just sayin.

Ms.Hillary said...

Woods is in the Intelligence Unit and DOES NOT go out and patrol unless there is a tip. They will praise their little stooge and ignore the nice arrests of others. My guess is that he rolled overf and this is part of a deal.

John Lovaas said...

Mr. Monack- my late father was not a drug dealer, passed away at age 76 last year, and owned 3 cell phones. One provided by his employer for use in the US, one set up for use in Europe, and one that could actually get a signal at his vacation home in western Wisconsin.

I should point out that many people who travel extensively for work have 2 cellular phones- one their employer provides, and one for personal use. You may be surprised to learn that many employers(and the IRS) frown on personal use of business equipment.

As to commercial drivers? You may also be surprised to learn that cellular telephone service across the US can be surprisingly fragmented, and that in many cases it is more economical to have multiple phones on multiple carriers than it is to pay roaming charges on one phone.

Gus said...

Thanks to the 91 people (no, I cannot determine who you are - and I wouldn't, if I could) who have already viewed this article and to the four who have commented.

If you know something about this and would like to share it, just let me know. Readers know that confidentiality can be counted on.

Know better said...

Sounds like they flipped him with the plea.
Good police work.

Gus said...

OK, so explain the January 28th court date for a preliminary hearing. Where's the court record of his guilty plea?

Joseph Monack said...

To John,
Sorry for having offended you. That wasn't what I was thinking about. Gus asks questions throughout his posts and I try to think of possible answers for his questions. I'm not saying you have to be a drug dealer to have three phones, but more or less that a drug dealer is someone who may have three phones. I'm not listing every possible person who carries three phones. My mind was wrapped up in the subject of this post, which was about a drug dealer. So ya, once again sorry. Have a nice day.

Gus said...

"Three cell phones" isn't the issue here. When all the details of this arrest and the case are public, well, it's very likely to get very, very messy.

Three cell phones and 75 pounds of cannabis? Think the guy has something to do with drugs? Or maybe he just thought he was delivering a crate that weighed 75 pounds to ____... To whom?

Come on... the guy is driving around with 75 pounds of weed worth, in the media release, $290,000. The Complaint says he brought it into Illinois from Reno.

Where was he stopped? Where was he headed? Maybe he was lost and just happened to turn onto Route 31 from I-90??? Think so?

Did the sheriff's department download all the calls to and from his cell phones while they had them? Would they have needed a search warrant for those downloads?

Vehicles seized in drug cases don't get returned in three days. Or was there just a "courtesy tow" to safeguard that Sprinter while the driver was in custody?

Was the Sprinter licensed as a commercial vehicle or did it have a passenger vehicle plate on it?

Know better said...

Plea would be sealed if he is working as informant. Prelem would be set at his first court appearance and may or may not be used.

Joseph Monack said...

Gus, unfortanately, if there is a plea deal you will never get answers to many of these questions. The points you bring up are really thought provoking though. The whole thing seems really strange. I agree.

John Lovaas said...

@Mr. Monack- not offended at all! Just illustrating a hazard of amateur sleuthing- you found the possession of 3 phones to be suspicious, I suggested it it is a far more common practice. If a sleuth can make a mistake analyzing one clue, they can fail elsewhere- that pesky cascade of errors...

Gus said...

Three cell phones
+ 75 lbs. of cannabis
+ late-model Sprinter
+ California license plates
+ Route 31 & 14
+ 2,145 miles from home
+ stopped by a detective (not by a patrol deputy) for a traffic violation

= Nothing Suspicious?