October 10, 2019

Illinois Prisoner Review Board hears clemency case for Montgomery cancer patient in prison after he ordered 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolate

The sister of a Montgomery cancer patient who is serving a four-year prison sentence for ordering 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolate pleaded to members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board Wednesday that she fears her brother will die in jail.

“He should not pay for a marijuana charge with his life,” Anissa Leifheit, of Montgomery, said.

The review board listened to Leifheit and attorney David Camic’s testimony during an executive clemency hearing for 37-year-old Tom Franzen, who has been in prison for nearly four months.

Franzen petitioned Gov. J.B. Pritzker for a pardon or to have his sentence commuted so he can receive medical treatment at home for cancer he was diagnosed with in high school.

Board officials said they will discuss the case and make a confidential recommendation to the governor’s office.

“Now that we are legalizing cannabis, I expect that’s something you folks will be dealing with for a long time,” Camic said. “This is a unique case because of Mr. Franzen’s deteriorating health.”

Tom Franzen
Tom Franzen (Kane County Jail)

Franzen has been battling various forms of cancer since high school and was using the drugs to self-medicate, Camic previously said.

While in jail, Franzen has experienced symptoms similar to when his cancer was forming, Leifheit said.

Franzen is not getting the medical care that he was promised and has lost 30 pounds during his time in prison, Camic said.

Franzen’s battle with cancer has been ongoing with various periods of remission, Camic said. He was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer that metastasized to his abdomen, both lungs, around his aorta and a vocal cord, Leifheit said.

Leifheit said her family’s biggest fear was that when Franzen was sentenced to prison, his health would fall rapidly and cause irreparable damage without regular care and monitoring.

Authorities flagged suspicious packages delivered to Franzen and on Valentine’s Day 2014, he was arrested after authorities received a search warrant and waited for him to open the package containing the THC-infused chocolate sent from a California address.

Kane County prosecutors argued that Franzen was a drug dealer. Police found .25 grams of suspected cocaine, 102 grams of marijuana and hash oil, along with ledgers they believed were related to drug sales during a search of his home.

Camic has said Franzen had ledgers because he was working as an authorized E-Bay reseller for consumer products such as shoes, art and sports merchandise.

Franzen is staying at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill. His projected parole date is June 7, 2021.

“We want him to not just survive prison, but to survive life,” Camic said.

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