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Harvard man gets 16 years for drugs, weapons charges

Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 5:23 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:15 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A judge on Friday sentenced a Harvard man and reputed gang member to 16 years in prison on drugs and weapons charges.

Cesar G. Rojas-Figueroa was found guilty after March bench trial before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather. The judge found the 28-year-old guilty of possessing more than 100 grams of cocaine with the intent to deliver and as an armed habitual criminal.

On Friday, she gave him multiple 16-year sentences that will be served concurrently.

"Throughout his years, nothing seems to deter the defendant from continuing to engage in criminal activity," Prather said.

In his closing argument, Assistant State's Attorney John Gibbons offered a timeline of what he said was Rojas-Figueroa's "broad reaching" criminal history that dated back to middle school.

"His criminal lifestyle only worsened over the past 15 years," Gibbons said.

Prosecutors on Friday called gang experts to testify – each saying that Rojas-Figueroa was a member of the Latin Kings. Rojas-Figueroa, however, denied that assertion, saying he left the gang in 2004.

Defense attorney David Gaeger asked for the minimum sentence, which he said was harsh enough. He pointed to a full courtroom gallery as a sign of Rojas-Figueroa's extended support system, and noted that the man worked two jobs to support his children.

During the trial, testimony revealed that Rojas-Figueroa’s former girlfriend, Brenda Valles, gave police drug ledgers and led them to a room where cocaine, packing materials, cutting agents, a scale and money counter also were found.

In a letter read before the court, Valles said she has been harassed and tormented by Rojas-Figueroa supporters since testifying. The two have a child together.

Rojas-Figueroa also was convicted on lesser charges of domestic battery and possession of marijuana.

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