KANKAKEE — Unable to make bail, a 2018 Kankakee High School graduate likely will end up being in jail for more than a year on drug charges before she gets her day in court.
Yisel Guadalupe Perez Varela, now 19, appeared on a video monitor Tuesday in Kankakee County Court, wearing a jail jumpsuit and sporting two braided ponytails.
When she was arrested in July 2018, Varela had no criminal record, worked at a Kankakee loan company and let police look at her phone, according to court documents.
On social media, her then-boyfriend took the blame for the crime, saying Varela was innocent. He has not been charged, although text messages seem to indicate he was involved in the drug shipment in question. Prosecutors have declined to say why he has not been charged.
Before Tuesday’s hearing, Varela’s lawyer, Martin Quintana, spoke with a prosecutor outside the courtroom. Once inside, Quintana told the judge they had a “productive conversation” and that they would continue negotiations. The judge set the next hearing for Sept. 10.
Quintana told the judge he needed an opportunity to meet with his client and that he would like her present for the next court hearing.
In an interview afterward, Quintana said 90 percent of cases result in plea bargains. The rest go to trial, where the “odds aren’t the best” and “you’re flipping a coin,” he said.
By the Sept. 10 hearing, Quintana said, he expects his client will have made a decision, whether to accept a plea offer or go to trial.
In this case, he said he believed Judge Clark Erickson has been fair and patient.
To get out of jail, Varela must put up $50,000 of a $500,000 bond to be released from the county jail. She has failed in trying to get her bail reduced.
On July 19, 2018, Varela was charged after police discovered that she opened a package that contained two pounds of crystal methamphetamine and seven pounds of marijuana, according to the transcript of an officer’s grand jury testimony.
In text messages, Varela’s boyfriend informed her that a package was coming to her grandparents’ house. Their text messages were vague, with her boyfriend saying there would be a wrapped gift inside. It was unclear from court records whether Varela saw the drugs when she opened the outer package that was delivered to the house.
Quintana said there was no evidence his client ever saw what was in the package. He also said the name on the package had no connection to anyone in the house.
In an email, State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said he could not comment on specific facts of the Varela case because it is pending.
“I can confirm that the boyfriend has not been charged and can say without hesitation that if there was sufficient evidence at this time to file charges against the boyfriend, you can bet your a-- I would,” Rowe said.
Varela faces charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.
If she is sentenced to prison for the charges, she must serve 75 percent of the time, according to court records.