Ian Bliss, 23, got a second chance to change his life at his Sentencing Hearing on November 1, 2022, in the Henry County Circuit Court in Cambridge. As part of an open plea deal, Bliss pleaded guilty to Possession of 15-100 Grams of Cocaine (Class 1 Felony) on August 18, 2022, and the remaining three counts were dismissed by the State. A Class 1 Felony is punishable by 4 to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and 1 year supervised release, up to 4 years probation or conditional discharge and up to 6 month in Henry County Jail, Fines and Assessments, and 2 years periodic imprisonment. Assistant State’s Attorney Reynolds asked for 6 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and a $14,000 fine plus assessments. Judge James Cosby said that Bliss is a 23-year-old with a speeding ticket and didn’t believe Dillion Schilling was so reliable that he can overlook probation. Judge Cosby sentenced Ian Bliss to 48 months probation, 180 days in jail (eligible for day-for-day credit), $10,000 fine, $1628 assessments after credits, Bliss must maintain employment, substance abuse evaluation and recommended treatment(s), drug testing, prohibited from consuming alcohol and illegal drugs, cannot enter any establishment that solely sells alcohol.
On March 19th, 2022, the Kewanee Police Department received a call that a suspect had broken into the residence on Wiley Avenue. Officers arrested Schilling after he exited the residence and located two loaded handguns on him. A search of the UTV that he drove to the scene revealed a third handgun, $1,380.00 in cash, approximately 100 grams of cannabis packaged for individual sale, and a drug ledger. In total, the Kewanee Police Department seized approximately 2.5 lbs. of cannabis, 2 ounces of cocaine, 1 ounce of hash butter, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 4 handguns, 1 shotgun, a Polaris UTV, and over $8,800.00 in cash between a search of the house and in Schilling’s possession. Dillon M. Schilling, 27, of Galva, Illinois, and the homeowner, Ian W. Bliss, 23, of Kewanee, Illinois were ultimately arrested.
Dillon Schilling was a witness for the State against Ian Bliss at the Sentencing Hearing. In exchange for his testimony, Schilling received a Proffer Agreement from the State. A proffer agreement is not a promise of absolute immunity but an agreement between the defendant and the government for a certain level of “use immunity”. Schilling testified that the State has not given him an offer or details regarding the Proffer Agreement. Schilling said he met Bliss around 2013 and said Bliss was selling drugs from a backpack at parties. He said he knew Bliss through friends of friends and parties. Schilling said he started buying from Bliss through friends to buy quarters and eight-balls but then started buying directly from Bliss. As he became addicted, Schilling said he began buying an ounce two to three times a week at $1500 an ounce. He said he sold some of the Cocaine he purchased from Bliss to support his habit about 5 years ago. Schilling testified he observed various drugs and weapons when he was in Bliss’s house and had purchased a couple guns from Bliss. Schilling said he would meet Bliss on back roads and Windmont Park when Bliss didn’t want to meet at his house because there was “too much heat” on him. Defense Attorney Jon Giraudo said the Defense wasn’t given notice that Dillon Schilling was testifying at the Sentencing hearing but Assistant State’s Attorney Katie Reynolds said it was in the sentencing report. Attorney Giraudo said Schilling wasn’t a reliable source because of his criminal history, a LEADS report shows no criminal history for Schilling or Bliss.
In response to the Defense claim that Bliss started selling drugs when he was laid off from his job, ASA Reynolds said Bliss was laid off over the winter “this is not a current event”. “He has been Dealing for years.” ASA Reynolds continues “Mr. Bliss is a drug dealer and should be sentenced to Illinois Department of Corrections.”
Defense Attorney Jon Giraudo said his client had “a wake up call”. Bliss was concerned for his Father’s safety when Schilling kicked in the door with loaded weapons. Bliss went back full-time to his prior laborer job after his arrest. He has worked this seasonal laborer job since 2016. Attorney Giraudo said there is no evidence of bond violations since Bliss bonded out. Giraudo said “He’s a good candidate for probation”. He said Bliss has taken accountability for his actions. Jon Giraudo said “Are we scared or mad at this individual? I would say we are not scared”. Attorney Giraudo said Bliss needs punished but “I don’t think we should lock him away”. “A DOC sentence would be tragically creative and there are a multitude of options to rehabilitate my client.” Attorney Giraudo suggested Judge Cosby sentence Bliss to 180 days in jail but stay the sentence to “hold it over his head”. Jon Giraudo said his client could lose his job and house from a lengthy jail sentence.
Judge Cosby started by saying the court will take judicial notice of Dillon Schilling’s pending charges, which include a Class X Felony for Armed Violence. Judge Cosby said “the law is clear, I can’t treat him as a victim”. Judge Cosby continues “Presumption of Probation is the starting point”. Judge Cosby said Mr. Bliss has been dealing drugs since he was about 13 years old if Dillon Schilling is to believed. “I don’t know if that’s true or not”. Judge Cosby ultimately gave Ian Bliss a second chance by sentencing him to Henry County Jail and probation. Judge Cosby said “You can choose to remain in the world that got you here today. You will not do well in Prison. I hope you make the right choice”. Before remanding Ian Bliss to Henry County Jail Custody, Judge Cosby said “Had this case been presented differently today, you would be going to Prison, no if’s, and’s, or but’s”.