CHARLESTON -- A Chicago man was sentenced to five years in prison for his conviction for having heroin reportedly found during a Coles County traffic stop.

Darien D. Simmons, 24, admitted to police that the drugs found in the vehicle on April 17, 2016, belonged to him, according to records in his case.

He was convicted at a jury trial in October of the offense of possession of a controlled substance, though he was charged with possession with intent to deliver.

The heroin that was reportedly found, about three grams or about one-tenth of an ounce, was divided into 21 bags, according to the case's records.

However, the jury at Simmons' trial apparently believed there wasn't enough evidence to support the charge alleging that he planned to sell or otherwise distribute the drug.

The traffic stop took place near the intersection of Illinois Route 130 and County Road 1000N, north of Charleston, and a search followed because an officer smelled marijuana, the case's records say.

A small amount of marijuana was also found in the vehicle, in which Simmons was a passenger, according to the records. The woman who was driving was never charged in connection with the incident.

The charge of which Simmons was found guilty can normally result in a prison sentence of one to three years with probation as an option.

However, Simmons was eligible for up to twice the normal maximum sentence because of his criminal record. That includes several Cook County drug offense convictions, according to the records in his case.

A conviction for the original possession with intent to deliver offense would have required a prison sentence of four to 30 years.

At sentencing, Coles County Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien agreed to recommend Simmons for prison system drug treatment and counseling programs.

It will be up to prison officials whether to admit Simmons to the programs but the judge's recommendation was needed for him to be eligible.

O'Brien also denied defense motions for acquittal despite the jury's verdict and for a new trial. Simmons indicated that he plans to appeal.

Assistant State's Attorney Joy Wolf prosecuted the case and Public Defender Anthony Ortega represented Simmons.


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