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Former Kankakee Man Sentenced to 1 year and a Day; Pot, Weapons Found at Home

PEORIA — A former Kankakee and Colfax man who admitted to growing and dealing marijuana was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after a judge reviewed a litany of praise for the defendant from his supporters.

37-year-old Leon Battiste was arrested in February 2010 after McLean County sheriff’s police found 180 marijuana plants in a sophisticated grow operation in the basement of Battiste’s Colfax home. Police also seized 4 pounds of the drug valued at $20,000 and five weapons.

Battiste, who later lived in Kanakakee, pleaded guilty in August to the manufacture or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute the drug.

In a commentary requesting a minimum sentence, his defense lawyer listed 43 positive traits offered by employers, neighbors, friends, and students of the marshal arts studio where the defendant was an instructor.

Supportes called Battiste “A gifted teacher and a champion of the underdog; a positive role model; and a genuine good person.”

The defense also argued that Battiste’s “physical appearance would likely make him a target for troublemakers in a prison setting. Unlike many criminal defendants, Mr. Battiste’s tattoos, piercings and other permanent adornments are a matter of expression, individuality and style and not related to gangs or crime. This distinction might be lost on inmates in the Bureau of Prisons.”