HARDIN - A Vandalia man entered a guilty plea in Calhoun Circuit Court to a charge of possession of fentanyl, a Class 4 Felony.

On April 17, 2018, Dennis Conway, 59, from Vandalia, Illinois, pleaded guilty in Calhoun County Circuit Court to a charge of possession of fentanyl. As part of a plea negotiation, Conway was placed on 30 months probation, and this will be a conviction kept on his criminal record. He was also ordered to pay $4,262 in fines and court costs.

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These are the facts in the case:

At 6:15 p.m., Nov. 4, 2017, at approx 6:15 pm, Sheriff Bill Heffington was on patrol near Pohlman Slough in South Calhoun County. The sheriff observed a vehicle to be speeding on the Illinois River Road, traveling 67 mph in a 55 mph zone. The sheriff conducted a traffic stop and identified the driver as Conway.

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Upon a routine check of the truck's license plates, it was revealed that the Illinois Secretary of State had suspended the plates for non-insurance. The sheriff placed Conway under arrest, as the required bail bond under the Illinois Compiled Statutes is a valid Illinois driver's license plus $100 cash bail. Prior to having the truck towed, Sheriff Heffington was assisted by Deputy Kyle Halsey and his K9 partner, Deputy Django.

Deputy Halsey noticed an indication from Django's behavior and suspected that narcotics were inside the vehicle. The sheriff and the deputy then continued with an inventory search of the vehicle, prior to it being removed by the tow truck.

The sheriff and deputy then located a container with 48-pill capsules inside. Conway denied that the pills were narcotics and stated that was his blood pressure medication. The pills were later sent to the Illinois State Police lab and were identified as fentanyl.

Sheriff Heffington wants the citizens of Calhoun to know that Django is very valuable to the community and although some people may not think Calhoun County needs a drug dog, unfortunately in this day and age, a drug dog is a necessity.

"Once people stop bringing drugs into Calhoun, maybe CCSO will consider retiring Django, but until then, Django is going to keep doing what he does," Sheriff Heffington said.

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