APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon.
CALVIN R. STONE, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE STENGEL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
On May 25, 1977, defendant Arthur Jones was indicted by the Peoria County grand jury on two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, one involving cocaine and the other involving lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). On April 17, 1978, defendant pleaded guilty to both charges, and following a sentencing hearing, he was sentenced to a term of 3 to 10 years imprisonment for the delivery-of-cocaine conviction and to a term of 2 to 6 years imprisonment for delivery of LSD, with the two sentences to run concurrently. The only issue on appeal is whether the sentences were excessive.
The presentence report indicated that defendant, who is 36 years old, had enlisted in the United States Army in 1959 and was honorably discharged in 1964. While in the army, defendant completed his G.E.D. and took a few college extension courses. During his army tour, defendant was married to a Korean National and has been married three times since. His current wife, Debra Killen Jones, is 22 years old and is very supportive of her husband.
Defendant was employed in the Springfield, Illinois, area, from 1967 to 1974, and then he established his own business in September, 1974. However, his heating-and-air-conditioning business went bankrupt two years later, and defendant then purchased the rights to be a territory owner and operator for a barber and beauty supply company. This venture also failed, apparently as a result of defendant's incarceration for the present offense. After his release from jail in July 1977, defendant was employed as a maintenance man at the Harvard Park Community Center by the Illinois Commission on Delinquency Prevention. Defendant also provided informal counseling to teenagers and senior citizens at the center. His supervisor, Ken Jones, described him as an excellent worker, as did two former employers.
The presentence report added that defendant has a number of large debts incurred as a result of his failed businesses. Defendant had no prior convictions of any kind, and he reported that he has no drug or alcohol problem.
Attached to the presentence report were eight letters on defendant's behalf from relatives, co-workers and a former employer. The presentence report concluded by recommending that defendant be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The report noted that defendant's history and record would seem to warrant a probation term, but the circumstances surrounding the offenses justify a prison term.
At the sentencing hearing, the State called Agent Hobbick who testified that he first met defendant on December 1, 1976, at a men's hair styling salon, where drug transactions were discussed. In later meetings with Hobbick, defendant discussed possible drug sales. On December 17, 1976, Hobbick met defendant at a parking lot in Springfield where defendant was to sell Hobbick 1000 barbiturates and a quarter ounce of cocaine. Defendant stated that he was unable to deliver the cocaine but sold the barbiturates for $225. Defendant told Hobbick of a new line of products, offered to get samples of them for Hobbick, and explained that he had been placed in charge of the Springfield area by those in Peoria who headed up the organization. Defendant was armed during this time. Hobbick arranged to purchase an ounce and a half of cocaine several weeks later, but defendant was late for that meeting, and the transaction never occurred.
During a transaction on January 26, 1977, at which the agent purchased from defendant a package of cocaine weighing 15.6 grams, including packing material, for $850, defendant told Hobbick of problems in the Peoria drug operation and that those in charge were thinking about putting out a contract on possible informers. Defendant also told Hobbick that he could supply counterfeit currency and stolen vehicles and that he was lining up connections and had completed a $6,000 deal the day before.
On February 22, 1977, when Hobbick was purchasing 100 tablets of LSD from defendant for $230, defendant told Hobbick of a new type of pill he would sell for $3 apiece when he obtained them. Defendant later advised Hobbick that he wanted to start his own operation and asked if Hobbick wanted to join him. On March 30, 1977, Hobbick purchased cocaine and PCP from defendant for $5,050. Defendant was arrested shortly after the transaction was completed.
Testifying in mitigation were two persons from the Harvard Park Community Center in Springfield, a foster placement facility for wards of the court, where defendant was employed at the time of sentencing. Mark Brown, director of the center, testified that defendant, along with his maintenance functions, assisted with counseling delinquents at the center. Defendant had a good relationship with the children and worked very well with them. Brown further stated that defendant had applied for a position as house father at a home in Springfield, since the funding for his position at the Harvard Park Center was ending, and Brown indicated that he would personally recommend defendant for the position.
Marjorie Marr, a former parole officer who helped set up the Harvard Park Programs, also praised defendant's work at the center, describing him as a very dedicated person. During the course of his employment, he became more of a counselor than a maintenance man and worked very well with others. Ms. Marr, who was chairman of the board of the Springfield home, stated that she had interviewed defendant for the position of house father and would recommend that he be hired.
Defendant testified in his own behalf at the sentencing hearing, stating that he was intoxicated at the time of the conversation with Hobbick in which he claimed to be setting up his own organization and that he had been drinking beer for five hours and was merely bragging at the time. Defendant also expressed interest in working with juveniles as a career, and letters attesting to defendant's good character were introduced into evidence.
In sentencing defendant, the trial judge noted that defendant, at the time the instant offenses were committed, was 35 years of age, had a high school education with some college, and was an articulate individual who was neither "stupid nor dumb." It was impossible, reasoned the trial judge, for defendant not to have known that his criminal conduct would cause or threaten serious physical harm to others. Defendant must have known that drugs cause serious physical harm to those who use them.
The trial judge determined that the instant transactions were not isolated deals nor did they involve the casual giving of a drug to a friend for a one-time use. Instead, the sale of the narcotics in the case at bar was part of an on-going business with at least two large deliveries involving several thousand dollars. Additionally, the judge observed that defendant was not induced to commit these crimes by reason of any alcoholic problems or personal drug addiction which might have explained ...