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CHARLESTON -- A man who didn't show up for his sentencing hearing for a conviction for planning to sell marijuana received a four-year prison sentence.

Reginald X. Burpo was sentenced in absentia for a charge of possession of cannabis with intent to deliver for which a jury returned a guilty verdict in June.

Burpo, 27, for whom court records list an address of an apartment at 1812 12th St., Charleston, was arrested on March 6 after police found marijuana in his vehicle and he admitted planning to sell it, according to records in his case.

After ordering the prison term, Coles County Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien issued a no-bond warrant for Burpo's arrest. Burpo was allowed to remain free on bond after the jury returned its guilty verdict.

Burpo represented himself in the case and after the trial filed a document he styled as a "constitutional challenge" to the conviction.

At sentencing, O'Brien stated that he wouldn't consider the document and based the sentence on Assistant State's Attorney Joy Wolf's recommendation.

Burpo took a similar route during the trial, when he didn't present any evidence.

Instead, his contention was that he didn't do anything illegal, claiming state law against having marijuana conflicted with federal laws. O'Brien granted prosecution objections to Burpo's proposed jury instructions based on that argument, however.

In addition to ordering the prison time, O'Brien included payment of about $1,400 in fines and court fees in the sentence.

Burpo's conviction could have resulted in a prison sentence of two to five years, through prison time wasn't required.

According to records in the case, officers with the East Central Illinois Task Force drug investigation unit and Mattoon police located and stopped Burpo's vehicle because of a warrant from an earlier case.

The search that followed led to the discovery of just more than four ounces of marijuana and several hundred dollars in cash, which Burpo later admitted were both for drug sales, the records say.

Another case charging Burpo with possession of cannabis with intent to deliver remains pending. In that case, he's accused of having marijuana he planned to sell on Dec. 17 and Jan. 11.


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