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Herrin man convicted in drug case

Staff Writer
Posted on 3/23/2015, 11:00 AM

MARION – Testimony from a confidential informant was instrumental to the state in getting a drug conviction late last week in Williamson County.

Following a weeklong jury trial, Lavell R. "Punchey" Porter, 25, of Herrin, was convicted of two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, crack cocaine, within 1,000 feet of a church. A jury of 10 women and two men returned the guilty verdict Friday following about an hour of deliberations.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for 1:15 p.m. May 21. The sentencing range for the Class X felonies is between 6 and 30 years to the Department of Corrections. The judge will decide if the convictions will run concurrently or consecutively, according to state prosecutors.

Williamson County State"s Attorney Brandon Zanotti said the separate incidents occurred in July 2014 near Lutheran and Pentecostal churches in Herrin.

"This was a very large elaborate effort of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group. This is the first case since many of these SIEG agencies have been around where they used a confidential informant, someone close to Mr. Porter to buy the crack cocaine," Zanotti said.

"The crux of this whole case was based on the informant"s testimony, which kind of makes these cases hard because when you use these sources they are people running in the same circles as the people we"re going after and credibility becomes a major issue. It"s very difficult for SIEG agents to build these cases up and equally on our part it"s difficult to ensure we have a credible confidential source to put forth at trial," he continued.

"I can"t say enough positive things about SIEG and the work they do. Several agents who worked this particular case, they"re not not difficult but very dangerous," he added.

Zanotti said when when a Grand Jury returned 19 indictments in September the State promised an aggressive campaign against drug dealers.

"I think this verdict today should send a really resounding signal to those in this county who feels it"s okay to deal crack cocaine and other illegal drugs, especially near a church," Zanotti said.