Crime & Courts

Sycamore man rejects plea deal on charges alleging drug trafficking at Wonder Lake airport

Attorney says alleged smuggler maintains innocence, will proceed with jury trial

Andrzej Hryniewicki, of the 27600 block of Hunters Lane, Sycamore
Andrzej Hryniewicki, of the 27600 block of Hunters Lane, Sycamore

A Sycamore man facing a minimum of 12 years in prison after police accused him of smuggling more than 300 pounds of marijuana through a McHenry County airport in 2014 rejected a plea deal Friday.

Prosecutors previously offered a negotiated plea that would send Andrjez Hryniewicki to prison for 11 years – one year fewer than the minimum number he faces if convicted at trial of marijuana trafficking.

McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Scholl said the offer was no longer on the table during Hryniewicki’s court appearance Friday.

A jury trial on the matter has been scheduled for Oct. 15. It was not clear whether Hryniewicki will testify.

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.

Officers claimed to have spoken with a witness who revealed plans to meet Hryniewicki at a Walmart in Belvidere and drive with him to Galt Airport to pick up the marijuana, according to a Dec. 8 court filing.

On Nov. 19, 2014, police hid inside the hangar filled with about 320 pounds of marijuana and arrested the two men, court records show.

“Mr. Hryniewicki has maintained his innocence since his arrest and will exercise his right to trial,” defense attorney Matthew Amarin said Friday.

Hryniewicki is charged with possession with intent to deliver more than
11 pounds of marijuana, marijuana trafficking and possession of more than
11 pounds of marijuana.

Reached by phone Friday, Amarin said Hryniewicki is unwilling to do any jail time to bring the case to a close.

The attorney previously tried to suppress certain statements prosecutors said Hryniewicki made to police. According to court filings, Hryniewicki claimed that during the arrest he was hit in the head and knocked unconscious.

Some of Hryniewicki’s injuries were documented by medical professionals.

A jail nurse noted a blood-stained bandage on his head and a swollen and bruised ear.

A Nov. 24, 2014, X-ray of his shoulder showed a torn joint that required surgery, according to medical records made public by Hryniewicki’s attorney.

Prosecutors said Hryniewicki suffered only minor injuries that were caused by his refusal to cooperate with arresting officers.

At a hearing in January, agents testified that they allowed a handcuffed Hryniewicki to smoke a cigarette, treated him for minor injuries and had a “cordial conversation” with him, court records show.

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

Earlier this year, McHenry County Judge James Cowlin refused to suppress the statements, claiming Hryniewicki spoke as though he were making up his answers.

The judge described Hryniewicki in a written decision as a “savvy and clever individual” who was “looking for a way out of his predicament.”

In November 2015, 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 Hryniewicki.

The state’s attempts to reverse Feetterer’s rulings were unsuccessful. Hryniewicki is expected to appear
Sept. 21 for one more court date before the trial.

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