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(Dismissal: ruling against prosecution puts jeopardy other indictments)

The Courier News, August 6, 1994
By Nina Bernardi
Staff Writer
A Kane County judge dismissed charges in a drug case Friday that could jeopardize other arrests made when investigators cracked a drug conspiracy ring in Kane and Lake counties.

Friday’s hearing also raised questions about credibility of state attorney general prosecutors, Defense attorneys claim they granted an Aurora defendant immunity in exchange for his cooperation but later indicted him.

Nearly a dozen Kane County residents were indicted last February for involvement in Marijuana trafficking. Ringleaders shipped marijuana from Texas to Illinois and Wisconsin investigators aid.

Henry “hank” Weilmuenster, 32, of Aurora was indicted on several counts ranging from calculated criminal cannabis conspiracy to cannabis trafficking.

Circuit Court Judge John Petersen dismissed the charges against Weilmuenster on a defense motion alleging prosecutors misled him into testifying.

“He was told he would not be prosecuted and was not indicted for several months, “ said defense attorney Kathleen Colton. “It was only when he was perceived as not cooperating that he was charged.”

Clyde Lemons, Jr., Chief of the attorney general’s drug conspiracy prosecution task force argued Weilmuenster was only promised partial immunity. He said prosecutors explained to Weilmuenster he could face prosecution, but his testimony before a statewide grand jury would not be used against him.

“At best, this is a last ditch effort to save his own hide,” Lemons said of Weilmuenster.

A former state police investigator who was present for attorney general prosecutor Amy Bertani’s conversation with Weilmuenster said he didn’t recall immunity being explained. He also said Bertani’s testimony about her conversation with Weilmuenster was not the way he remembered.

Petersen said he believed the former officer was telling the truth. He also expressed skepticism at Bertani’s claim a written court order granting Weilmuenster partial immunity was “lost” from the file when the case was transferred from Cook County to Kane County.

Lemons declined comment after the hearing.

Colton said she believes the dismissal of Weilmuenster’s charges could influence the outcome of other drug ring arrests. More hearings in defense motions to dismiss charges are scheduled for later this month.

Colton said she believes the drug investigation was motivated by Attorney General Roland Burris’ primary campaign for governor.