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Kewanee Man Sentenced to Probation and 180 Days in Jail for Possession of Cocaine

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The family of a Kewanee man showed up to support him at his sentencing hearing for possession of cocaine on May 10, 2024. Jeffery Cerda was sentenced to probation and 180 days in the Henry County Jail for possession of 55.2 grams of cocaine; the State asked for six years in prison. A couple dozen family members and friends attended the sentencing hearing to support Cerda and tell Judge Hathaway who Jeffery Cerda is and how his kids would suffer if he went to prison.  The open plea deal capped the possible prison sentence at six years for the Class 1 felony, and the distribution of cocaine charge was dismissed. Cerda works full-time in Atkinson while his girlfriend stays home with their young children. Cerda’s girlfriend, cousin, and sister spoke about how Jeffery has a big heart and helps his family when needed. Jeffery Cerda told the court that he would hate to leave his kids if he had to go to prison.  He said he was sorry to everyone during this hard time.  He said he was sorry and “I won’t do this again.”

The state requested six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, followed by six months of mandatory supervised release, plus a fine and assessments. The state said that Cerda is still engaging in the same behavior following his second chance probation for possession of a controlled substance in 2019.  Cerda completed his probation, and the possession change from 2019 was dismissed per the plea agreement. The state said that Cerda tested positive for cocaine during his 2022 arrest, but his attorney said he tested negative the morning of this plea.  The state said that Cerda had a second chance with his last case.

Defense attorney VanDerSnick said that the current charge is serious but no one got hurt.  VanDerSnick said that Cerda “didn’t even really have the drugs on him” because the drugs were mailed to a house and Cerda just picked up the package. The defense said that Cerda didn’t do or cause harm to anyone and that they don’t know if he was compensated for it. VanDerSnick said, “He should’ve known better, but for some reason, he didn’t.” “I think he’s learned his lesson”, said Attorney VanDerSnick, “He’s got to be embarrassed and he is likely to comply with the terms of probation,” VanDerSnick asked the court to sentence Cerda to probation, electronic home monitoring, fines, assessments, no possession of drugs, and random testing. Cerda has done the substance abuse evaluation and treatment, but send him back if you think he should, said VanDerSnick.

Judge Hathaway said that Cerda is likely to comply with probation because he fully completed the terms of probation from his 2019 conviction. Judge Hathaway said, “You need to start making better decisions because you have kids at home.” Cerda was sentenced to two years of probation and 180 days in the Henry County Jail, with day-for-day credit, credit for two days served, a $1,500 fine, and assessments. Cerda is not allowed to break any laws, not possess any firearms or ammunition, can’t leave Illinois without permission, keep his address updated with the clerk, obtain a substance abuse evaluation, and not possess any drugs.

Cerda was originally charged with Possession of 15<100 Grams of Cocaine (Class 1 Felony) and Manufacture/Deliver 15<100 Grams of Cocaine (Class X Felony).

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