A Ford County marijuana-growing operation was busted up by authorities, resulting the arrest of a rural Clifton man.
60-year-old James Crane will face charges in Ford County Circuit Court. The operation was discovered in the Kempton area. KAMEG agents investigated the case since last October. Crane was arrested Monday. Agents seized an estimated 1600 cannabis plants, totaling about 700 pounds.
Ford County State's Attorney Randy Yedinak said that in October 2013, agents from the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group began an investigation into a possible cannabis grow in rural Kempton.
Felony charges against Crane include possession of cannabis with intent to deliver. He was jailed in Paxton on a $200,000 bond.
Ford County State's Attorney Randy Yedinak is also looking into seizing Crane's interest in 76 acres of land used to grow the illegal crop.
Iroquois County Sheriff Derek Hagen reports the the Iroquois County Jail is in full compliance with Illinois Department of Corrections standards. That's according to an inspection of the facility completed July 16 by IDOC officials.
"This report from the Illinois Department of Corrections is a big compliment to my entire staff of correctional officers at the Iroquois County Jail," Hagen said. "I am extremely proud of my correctional officers who operate and maintain the jail 24 hours a day with dedication and professionalism."
Hagen reports, there was one improvement since the jail's last inspection "The facility food service provider, Aramark, has replaced their representative. Kevin Kling is now the on-site Aramark representative." Hagen said there were zero non-compliances found.
The public may review the 2014 Iroquois County Jail inspection report at the Iroquois County Clerk's Office located in the Administrative Center, 1001 E. Grant St., Watseka.
Charges dropped against 'mastermind' of kidnapping, armed robbery
A judge in Ford County dismissed all charges against a Chicago man whom police described as the "mastermind" behind a December 2013 kidnapping and armed robbery of a Paxton businessman.
It was the prosecution's motion to dismiss the case against 43-year-old Manuel Samano-Santoyo, when he was about to stand trial in Circuit Court.
Special prosecutor Ed Parkinson indicated the prosecution would have had a difficult time proving Samano-Santoyo's involvement.
Samano-Santoyo was the fourth man charged in connection with the December incident. Samano-Santoyo was charged in February with the same offenses as three co-defendants: two counts each of armed robbery, kidnapping, and one count of aggravated battery.
The News-Gazette reported Parkinson said Samano-Santoyo was charged "under a theory of accountability, as the actual evidence in the related cases (against his co-defendants) demonstrate that he was not at the scene of the commission of the crimes ... at any time."
Samano-Santoyo, however, remained at the Ford County Jail following the dismissal of the charges against him. That is because an immigration hold has been placed on Samano-Santoyo, who is an illegal immigrant.
Samano-Santoyo is a relative of one of the other suspects, 22-year-old Eduardo Samano of Berwyn. Also charged are a 25-year-old Paxton resident; and a 25-year-old from Loda. All have pleaded not guilty.
Paxton Police had reported Joel Hastings of rural Paxton was forced into his car, restrained, and beaten with a gun and baseball bat as two Hispanic men drove him around Ford and Iroquois counties.
The two men also robbed Hastings of $300 in cash. They let Hastings leave under the condition he later provide them with $50,000 in cash or "the same value in drugs," according to police accounts.
One defendant was arrested after he was seen retrieving $50,000 in cash that the FBI had placed in a garbage can at the park in Loda on Jan. 15.
U. S. Rep. Kinzinger schedules traveling office hours
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger's office will hold traveling office hours in Ford, Iroquois and Livingston counties this week. Office hours will be held in Sibley, Crescent City, Loda, and Forrest.
Staff members will be at Sibley from 11:30 am. to 12:30 pm Thursday, July 24, at the Sullivan Township building. The Loda visit is from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, July 25, at the Loda American Legion Hall.
Friday's visit in Crescent City is from 2:30 to 3:30 pm at Crescent City Village Hall.
No appointments are necessary. Kinzinger's staff will be available to assist and provide guidance for constituents on issues ranging from veterans and Social Security benefits to Medicare and immigration issues. Constituents are welcome to come to share their questions and concerns.