A Montgomery cancer patient who ordered 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolate to his home in 2014 began serving his 4-year prison term Friday, expressing his gratitude to the judge for accepting a guilty plea on a lesser charge.
I happened to be at the Kane County Judicial Center for another matter yesterday and stopped for this matter.
Thomas Franzen, 37, was charged in February 2014 after postal inspectors intercepted a suspicious package, obtained a search warrant and waited until he accepted it at his home.
Franzen, whose attorney says he has been battling various forms of cancer since high school and was using the drugs to “self-medicate,” faced a punishment of 12 to 60 years in prison on charges of a drug conspiracy and cannabis trafficking of more than 5,000 grams.
If convicted, Franzen would have had to serve 75% of any sentence, meaning he faced a minimum of nine years behind bars.
Two weeks ago, Franzen pleaded guilty to felony marijuana possession of more than 5,000 grams and was sentenced to the minimum of four years; the top penalty was 15 years and he can have his sentence cut to two years for good behavior.
On Friday, defense attorney David Camic presented Kane County Judge Clint Hull with a letter from one of Franzen’s doctors stating that Franzen is battling stage 3 testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and a kidney. The letter outlined surgeries Franzen underwent and urged that he receive regular access to doctors and medication while in prison.
Franzen also wanted to express his gratitude to the judge for accepting the plea on the lesser charge, Camic said.
“Your health is really important. From that standpoint, I appreciate the documentation you gave (the court),” Hull told Franzen. “It’s a hard day for you and a hard day for your family. But my hope is you do what you need to do.”
Camic said Franzen was 220 pounds in high school when first diagnosed with cancer and now is down to 130 pounds.
“He’s really sick,” Camic said outside court.
After Franzen’s guilty plea, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, a unit of the state police, searched Franzen’s home after his arrest and found “evidence of drug dealing,” such as ledgers, more than $2,000, a digital scale, hashish oil, paraphernalia, and receipts for packages he mailed across the country and Canada.
“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition, our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to four years, of which he is required to only serve two years,” McMahon said.
He said the amount of drugs Franzen had was far in excess of what is deemed for personal use. “We did this in spite of evidence that proves Mr. Franzen is a drug dealer.”
Camic disagreed with McMahon’s assessment, arguing Franzen was reselling items on eBay and other online sites.
“My client was not selling drugs,” Camic said. “What he was selling was sneakers, vintage clothing, vintage toys and sporting goods.”
Camic said the criminal justice system is ill-equipped to deal with someone seriously ill who is facing a mandatory minimum sentence, such as Franzen. A mandatory minimum term is a lawmaker’s way of saying to a judge, “We don’t trust you,”