WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors are evaluating their next steps after a judge’s ruling blew holes in their case against a Sycamore man accused of smuggling more than 300 pounds of marijuana through a McHenry County airport.
Andrzej Hryniewicki, 47, was charged in November 2014 with multiple drug felonies, including cannabis trafficking. The most serious charge against him carries a possible sentencing range of six to 30 years in prison.
He’s accused of trafficking about 320 pounds of marijuana in a private airplane that came from California and landed at Galt Airport in Wonder Lake.
Last month, McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer ruled that the search warrant for the airport hangar where the drugs were found did not establish probable cause, and any evidence collected could not be used against him.
Without the marijuana, there is no case.
Prosecutors can appeal Feetterer’s decision, and assistant state’s attorneys Dave Johnston and Andrew Mueller said they are exploring their options, which also could include dismissing the charges against Hryniewicki.
After the initial ruling in November, Hryniewicki was granted a recognizance bond and released.
Prosecutors asked Feetterer to reconsider his ruling, and after a hearing on Wednesday, the judge again determined that there was not enough probable cause to execute the warrant.
The affidavit for a search warrant, signed by a Homeland Security officer, was described as “bare bones” when it came to laying out the case against Hryniewicki. It indicates that Hryniewicki flew from Sacramento, California, to Wonder Lake with a stop for fuel in Utah.
At the fuel stop, an unnamed anonymous source claimed to see duffel bags packed in the rear of the plane, the officer wrote in his affidavit.
Feetterer’s issue with the affidavit began there.
“There’s nothing in this affidavit setting forth why this [source of information] is a credible individual,” Feetterer said.
The officer also wrote in the affidavit that the pilot switched the plane’s transponder on and off during the flight, which he believed was done to evade police detection. He also told the judge who signed the search warrant that transponders need to be turned on at all times during a flight, which is incorrect.
Hryniewicki’s defense attorney, Matthew Amarin, provided Feetterer with federal flight regulations regarding transponders, which indicate they only need to be turned on in controlled airspace.
Further, the affidavit does not indicate what kind of airspace the plane flew through.
“The judge was misled when he issued that search warrant,” Amarin said.
Charges still remain pending against Hryniewicki as prosecutors evaluate their next steps. His next court date is Jan. 6.