A Sycamore man pleaded guilty Friday to possessing more than 300 pounds of marijuana, which he was accused of smuggling from California into a McHenry County airport.
Andrzej Hryniewicki of the 27600 block of Hunters Lane was scheduled to go to trial on marijuana possession and trafficking charges in April. However, he instead accepted an offer from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The 51-year-old pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver more than 300 pounds of marijuana, a felony typically punishable by as many as 30 years in prison. Hryniewicki is scheduled for a sentencing hearing May 10.
His guilty plea came on the heels of a private meeting Wednesday between prosecutors, defense attorney Matthew Amarin and McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt.
Hryniewicki rejected a separate plea deal in June, when prosecutors offered to sentence him to prison for 11 years – one year fewer than the minimum number he would have faced if he were convicted at trial of marijuana trafficking.
Amarin declined to comment on Hryniewicki’s plea Friday.
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.
Several motions filed between attorneys in 2018 detailed prosecutors’ plans to have that witness testify at trial, and in exchange, receive immunity. The man, who has not been charged, told McHenry County assistant state’s attorneys that he’d previously made an additional trip with Hryniewicki from Wonder Lake to Northern California and back. During that alleged trip, about a week before the drug bust, Hryniewicki brought 200 pounds of marijuana into Galt Airport, according to prosecutors’ Oct. 9, 2018, motion. Hryniewicki reportedly was transporting the drugs using a plane that he bought, and he had the witness, a pilot, help him modify the plane to carry more weight, court records show.
Amarin claimed that the witness’ testimony was prejudicial and included “zero evidence corroborating the alleged crime.”