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Man gets prison in pot-farming case

Updated: November 25, 2012 9:04PM

A Naperville man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for helping to run a large-scale marijuana-growing operation in Paw Paw, in Lee County.

Eric M. Konrady, 26, was the last of four men, including an Aurora resident to be sentenced in the case, which was cracked early last year in a multiple law enforcement agency probe.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip G. Reinhard sentenced Konrady to five-year prison terms on felony charges of conspiring to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug conspiracy, according to court records. The terms will run consecutively, for a total of 10 years.

Konrady and three associates were arrested March 26, 2011, by a team of federal, state and local law enforcement agents. The others were Benjamin F. Garcia, 27, of Aurora; and Donald P. Cipra, 28, and Shannon L. Gregory, 40, both of Paw Paw.

The men were taken into custody inside two houses they rented in Paw Paw, about 40 miles west of Aurora.

Authorities seized 458 marijuana plants they found in various stages of growth in the basements of the homes. They also confiscated items used to grow marijuana, as well as a pound of harvested marijuana, $1,100 in cash and 13 firearms.

Those weapons included an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle belonging to Gregory; a Glock semiautomatic handgun found in Cipra’s possession; a Taurus semiautomatic handgun belonging to Konrady; and a Springfield Armory .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun taken from Garcia, according to a 2011 grand jury indictment.

Cipra, Garcia and Gregory previously pleaded guilty to the same charges on which Konrady was convicted. Garcia was sentenced Sept. 14 to nine years in prison, while Cipra and Gregory were both sentenced Oct. 19 to 10-year prison terms.

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