When Will County Judge Rodney Lechwar's son Matthew was arrested for allegedly dealing heroin in 2006, the 24-year-old got his charge dropped by successfully completing a special drug court program.
When he was again arrested on a heroin rap six years later, Matthew Lechwar took a plea deal brokered by his attorney and a special prosecutor that could see him sprung from prison in as little as four months.
Matthew Lechwar's actual sentence was for eight years in prison, but at the request of his attorney, George Lenard, and special prosecutor Charles Colburn, Judge Edward Burmila recommended Matthew Lechwar as a candidate for the Department of Corrections' Impact Incarceration program.
Burmila accepted Matthew Lechwar's plea and made his recommendation during a court hearing Thursday.
Often referred to as "boot camp," the Impact Incarceration program allows prisoners to avoid lengthy prison sentences by participating in a paramilitary-style rehabilitation program for 120 to 180 days.
If the convict fails to complete the program, he must serve out his sentence.
Matthew Lechwar, 30, was initially ineligible for the Impact Incarceration because he was charged with a class X felony for allegedly holding between 15 and 100 grams of packaged heroin when he was grabbed by narcotics agents in March.
Fortunately for Matthew Lechwar, Colburn changed the indictment and dropped the charge to a class 1 felony. Colburn explained to Judge Burmila that testing revealed that the agents from the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad must have made a mistake, as Matthew Lechwar really only had a little more than 14 grams of heroin on him when he was arrested. That amount falls just under the threshold for a Class X felony.
Not only would the class X have kept Matthew Lechwar out of the Impact Incarceration program, it also could have put him in prison for as long as 30 years.
The narcotics agents arrested Matthew Lechwar, a Channahon resident, along with Tanya Roe, also of Channahon, during a traffic stop. The agents found the heroin in Lechwar's coat, Colburn said during Thursday's hearing.
Roe pleaded guilty in June. She was sentenced to the 77 days she had already served in jail and probation.
Matthew Lechwar's father, Rodney Lechwar, served as a judge from 1985 until 2010 and was the chief judge in Will County from 1997 to 2003. For 10 years prior to becoming a judge, Rodney Lechwar was a Will County prosecutor.
Rodney Lechwar is now a mediator with ADR Systems, "the Chicago area’s largest alternative dispute resolution service."
In addition to Matthew Lechwar's 2006 unlawful delivery of heroin case, he has a 2000 possession of cannabis conviction out of Kendall County, a 2003 driving under the influence conviction in Will County, a 2004 possession of a controlled substance conviction from Grundy County, and a 2010 possession of a controlled substance conviction out of Cook County, Colburn said during the hearing.
The Cook County conviction landed Lechwar in the Department of Corrections on a one-year sentence.