Crime & Courts

Judge won't suppress statements in Wonder Lake marijuana smuggling case

Attorneys for Andrzej Hryniewicki said the Sycamore man was beaten and coerced into confessing

WONDER LAKE – A McHenry County judge on Friday denied attorneys’ request to suppress an alleged confession made by a Sycamore man charged with smuggling more than 300 pounds of marijuana through a McHenry County airport in 2014.

Attorneys for Andrzej Hryniewicki asked Judge James Cowlin last month to prevent the statements from being allowed in a future trial, claiming they were the product of coercion and physical and mental abuse.

In a written decision filed Friday in McHenry County court, Cowlin said Hryniewicki, of Sycamore, seemed “evasive” during his testimony in January, and spoke as though he were making up his answers.

“The court can best describe [Hryniewicki] as a savvy and clever individual who at various times during his encounter with police was looking for a way out of his predicament,” Cowlin wrote.

Hryniewicki was charged in November 2014 with multiple drug felonies, including marijuana trafficking, after police said he transported about $1.12 million worth of marijuana in a private airplane that came from California and landed at Galt Airport in Wonder Lake.

On Nov. 18, 2014, police began to monitor a plane traveling from California to Chicago. Officers later spoke with a witness who told them he had plans to meet Hryniewicki at a Walmart in Belvidere and drive with him to Galt Airport to get the marijuana, according to a Dec. 8 court filing. A search of the hangar revealed nearly 320 pounds of marijuana. Police hid inside the hangar Nov. 19 and arrested the two men.

Defense attorney Matthew Amarin has said that during the arrest, Hryniewicki was hit in the head and knocked unconscious. Although responding paramedics suggested that he be taken to the hospital, law enforcement encouraged him to refuse treatment, Amarin wrote in previous motions.

Prosecutors, however, have said any injuries Hryniewicki suffered were minor and caused by his refusal to cooperate with the officers trying to arrest him.

Agents testified that they allowed Hryniewicki to smoke cigarettes once he was handcuffed, and that after he was treated for his injury, Hryniewicki had a “cordial conversation” about his family, high school wrestling and college football.

Hryniewicki shortly after confessed to bringing drugs over the Illinois border, stating he’d been hired as a smuggler by someone he knew only as “Steve,” according to the Dec. 8 filing.

“[Hryniewicki] was educated,” Cowlin wrote in his decision. “He attended military school in the United States. [Hryniewicki] not only voluntarily offered statements to the police, he initiated the conversation offering to set up another participant.”

The case will pick back up in McHenry County on March 23.

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