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Cary man caught with 21 pounds of marijuana gets most serious charge dropped for clean record

Mark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Mark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors said a Cary man’s clean record prompted them to drop a more serious charge if he pleaded guilty to possessing about 21 pounds of marijuana.

Mark J. Priester, 39, of the first block of West Franke Avenue, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of marijuana and was sentenced to four years in prison.

A more serious charge initially filed against Priester, manufacturing and delivering marijuana, could have landed him six to 30 years in prison, court records show.

The plea negotiation was agreed upon by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office because Priester had no previous felony convictions, Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons said Monday.

“Four years is still a pretty stiff sentence,” Gibbons said.

In addition to his four-year sentence, Priester was ordered to pay the court $2,784.

His attorney, Robert Hockemeyer, was not available to comment Monday.

Police arrested Priester on Nov. 3 and searched his home March 31 in Cary, according to a news release.

At the time, police also accused him of being in possession of a number of firearms despite having his firearm owner’s identification card previously revoked, court records show.

Priester originally was charged with possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing and delivering marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm without a FOID card and possession of ammunition without a FOID card.

Police said Priester had more than 1 ounce of psychedelic mushrooms, less than an ounce of cocaine, more than 21 pounds of marijuana and an assortment of drug paraphernalia in his possession March 31, according to court documents.

As part of a plea negotiation, Priester only pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, and all other charges against him were dropped.

Priester has an ongoing case in Lake County, where he faces similar charges.

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