State Rep Candidate Castanza denies 2008 drug charges
State representative hopeful Jake Castanza says he was never charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, though Winnebago 17th Circuit Court records say otherwise.
In response to a Rockford Sun report that described his 2008 criminal court ordeal, Castanza said Wednesday on Facebook that he "was never arrested" and that the suggestion was "false" and a "lie."
"This is a laughable and sad attempt to discredit me," he said.
But court records, available online through the 17th Circuit's web site, detail Castanza's drug charges during the last month of his senior year at Boylan Catholic H.S.
Castanza was charged on Thursday May 1, 2008 by the Loves Park Police Department, records show, at the same time another then 18-year old was also charged by the same department with possession of drug paraphernalia as well as between 2.5 and 10 grams of marijuana.
Castanza was arraigned four days later, in the court of Judge Patrick Yarbrough. He pled not guilty, according to court records, and was accompanied by his mother.
A month later, on June 5, 2008, Castanza was back in court where, records say, he was read the charges against him and possible penalties were explained. He then pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 months supervision and paid a $953 fine.
The court noted that to satisfy the $953 fine it would use his $953 bond payment.
Castanza told the Rockford Register-Star last week that he believes marijuana legalization in Illinois is "long overdue."
“We’re wasting tons of money in our criminal justice system, both policing and court efforts, in talking about a substance that has been proven to be less harmful than alcohol,” he said.
Castanza is running against incumbent 68th District State Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), who works as a Rockford Police Detective.
The 68th House District includes Machesney Park, Loves Park, Roscoe and parts of the far north side of Rockford, including Owen Township.