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06/22/89 the People of the State of v. Finch Pettis

June 22, 1989





540 N.E.2d 1097, 184 Ill. App. 3d 743, 133 Ill. Dec. 231 1989.IL.973

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. John R. Goshgarian, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE DUNN delivered the opinion of the court. REINHARD and McLAREN, JJ., concur.


Defendant, Finch Pettis, was convicted of unlawful delivery of 15 or more grams of a controlled substance (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1401(a)(2)) and was sentenced to a term of six years' and seven months' imprisonment. He raises the following contentions on appeal: (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence; (2) that the trial court erroneously refused to permit his attorney to ask an accomplice during cross-examination about the potential penalties for the charge dropped by the State in return for his testimony; (3) that the State failed to provide adequate proof of the chain of custody for the cocaine that was admitted into evidence; and (4) that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

Defendant's conviction resulted from his alleged participation in a sale of cocaine to special agent Robert Ogden of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group at a gas station at the corner of 21st Street and Lewis in Zion on October 1, 1987. Ogden met with other LCMEG agents and a confidential source at about 4:30 p.m. on that date in order to formulate plans for the transaction. The confidential source told Ogden that the purchase would be made at the Zion gas station and that Nelson Booker was one of the individuals involved in the transaction.

Ogden and the confidential source arrived at the gas station at about 5:02 p.m. that same day. They met Booker and another man who Booker identified as Tommy Boyd. At the time there were three cars with LCMEG agents in the vicinity conducting surveillance. Agents Jon Story and Robert Koval were in a car parked on Joppa Street, about one block away from the gas station. Agents Nikos Eliopoulos, Mark Padilla, and Curtis Brame were parked about one-half block south of the station. Agent Syndy Nugent and Detective Owen of the Zion police department were in a church parking lot at the southeast corner of 22nd Street and Lewis.

Booker told Ogden at the gas station that the price for the cocaine would be $1,600. Boyd then stated that he was going to make a telephone call to his source. Boyd returned and told the others that the source would arrive within a short time. The source had not arrived after 20 minutes, so Ogden stated he was hungry and that he had to contact a person throwing a party in southern Lake County in order to tell that person he would be late. He employed this ruse in order to notify the other agents that the deal might take longer than expected. Ogden gave Booker and Boyd the number of a pager so they could contact him. Ogden then left the scene and met with some of the other agents.

Ogden and the informant returned to the gas station after the meeting. They received a page, contacted the phone number that appeared on the pager, and spoke to Boyd, who told them he had contacted his source and the source would meet everyone at the station. At about 6:19 p.m., Ogden saw Booker and Boyd walking toward his vehicle. Other agents saw Booker and Boyd arrive in the area in a blue Oldsmobile with two other men. These two men stood near the Oldsmobile while Booker and Boyd approached Ogden's car.

The two men informed Ogden that the source would not deal with him directly. Instead, the source would park a short distance from the gas station, and Boyd would retrieve the cocaine from the source's car. Boyd told Ogden that the source would be driving a silver BMW. A little while later, Boyd stated that he saw his man. Ogden looked up and saw a silver BMW turning from Lewis Avenue onto 21st Street. Boyd then said that he had to go meet the man and walked toward the BMW. This occurred at approximately 6:46 p.m.

Defendant was the driver of the silver BMW. He parked the car on Joppa Street, about 30 feet from where Agents Koval and Story were parked. The agents saw a plastic bag containing something white in defendant's right hand. Defendant reached over toward Boyd and his hand went below the dashboard. The agents then saw the bag in Boyd's hand. Boyd put it in the left front pocket of his sweatshirt. Boyd did not actually enter the BMW but instead stood outside it and leaned into it.

Boyd then returned to the gas station and sat in the passenger seat of Ogden's car. Ogden testified that Boyd had been away for about two minutes. Boyd asked Ogden to show him the money and Ogden did so. Boyd then handed Ogden a clear plastic bag which contained a white, powdery, rocky substance. Ogden opened up the plastic bag, smelled the contents, and retied the knot on top of it. He activated a prearranged arrest signal. A few minutes later, some of the other agents appeared and placed Booker and Boyd under arrest. The two men who dropped off Booker and Boyd fled from the scene in the blue Oldsmobile. Agents Story and Koval placed defendant under arrest.

Agent Ogden took the plastic bag to the Zion police department and field-tested the contents. The contents tested positive for the presence of cocaine. Agent Story weighed the substance while it was inside the bag, and the total weight was 29.3 grams. Ogden transported the bag and its contents to the LCMEG evidence locker, where he turned them over to Agent Padilla, the LCMEG evidence officer. The bag was sealed when Ogden turned it over. Ogden identified People's exhibit No. 1 as the bag and substance given to him by Boyd and stated ...

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