McGowan Sentenced to 18 Years in DOC for Cocaine Trafficking

By Benjamin Cox on October 17, 2019 at 6:29pm

Correction 10/18/2019, the correct name of the informant in this article is Willie Bruner Jr.

A Jacksonville man is going to spend a significant amount of time in the Illinois Department of Corrections for cocaine trafficking. James Antwanne McGowan was sentenced to 18 years in IDOC this afternoon for a Class X felony of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance. The felony carried a sentence range of 6-30 years in jail. However, due to prior felony convictions of both violence and drug charges, McGowan had an aggravated stipulation to his charges which would have given 6 to 60 years in jail. WLDS reported McGowan’s guilty verdict after his trial in August.

Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner called Inspector Shawn Hefley to the stand during the discovery of evidence phase of the sentencing hearing today, having him recount 7 controlled buys by the Illinois State Police over a period of two years, resulting in an execution of the warrant at McGowan’s home at 841 South East Street in December 2017 for which McGowan was arrested and charged along with his brother Jamar White. Turner also presented evidence of federal proffers from McGowan’s drug supplier Jeffrey Santiago of Beardstown and White in which they testified of McGowan’s drug dealing activities as far back as 2007.

Hefley also described alleged obstruction of justice by McGowan when video of police informant Willie Bruner surfaced of him smoking crack cocaine the day it was revealed Bruner was the police’s informant. Bruner was supposedly videoed by a Josh Havens after McGowan allegedly offered him $200 to video Bruner smoking so it would discredit his testimony in court.

Defense Attorney Daniel Noll called McGowan’s 20 year old daughter to the stand to plead for a lesser sentence from the court because she believed her father to be a good person and was a positive role model. McGowan also spoke on his own behalf saying that his mother’s death while he has been incarcerated and the fact that he’s missed his children had changed him personally. Several letters were also submitted to the court on his behalf.

Ultimately Judge Jeffrey Tobin sentenced McGowan to 18 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections along with 3 years of Mandatory Supervised Release with 71 days credit for time served along with a $4000 fine, $1300 restitution from the controlled buy, plus additional fees and court costs.

Defense Attorney Noll said he was displeased with the ruling by the court for his client. He said that he would be seeking an appeal for McGowan immediately to reduce the sentence, as he believe McGowan’s current time in jail coupled with the death of his mother had made him a changed person.

Assistant States Attorney Turner said that he felt that the sentence was appropriate considering McGowan’s criminal history dating back to 1999. Turner said that McGowan’s lengthy history also played a big roll in the ultimate outcome. He said the sentence should keep McGowan’s behavior off the streets of Jacksonville for over a decade.