Bible school teacher had cocaine worth $377,000 in a downtown apartment, prosecutors say, but his attorney rips their case

Chicago — A suburban Bible school teacher was charged on Saturday with having a gun and cocaine worth $377,000 in a downtown Chicago high-rise apartment building. But his defense attorney ripped apart the prosecution’s case, saying they had no evidence that he had anything to do with the drugs.

Exactly one month earlier, the accused man, 25-year-old Dane Kalas, was released on a recognizance bond after Chicago police allegedly found him with $9,000 cash and about 5-1/2 ounces of pot during a traffic stop in Pilsen.

Dane Kalas | Cook County sheriff’s office

In the latest round of allegations, prosecutors said police arrested Kalas in the parking garage of a building in the 900 block of North Orleans as they were preparing to execute a search warrant on a unit upstairs.

During Kalas’ bail hearing Saturday, a prosecutor said police seized 1,074 grams of cocaine in a heat-sealed bag “from the defendant’s bedroom,” along with another bag containing 672 grams of cocaine. In the bedroom closet, a safe contained 1,270 grams of a “white powdery substance” suspected to be cocaine, prosecutors said.

Altogether, police allegedly seized more than 6-1/2 pounds of cocaine that Judge Susana Ortiz said authorities estimated to have a street value of $377,000.

Cops also found a loaded handgun in the apartment’s dining room, and Kalas admitted that it was registered in his name, prosecutors said.

But Kalas’ public defender, Catherine Stockslager, ripped apart the state’s allegations.

She said neither police nor prosecutors offered any evidence that Kalas had a connection to the apartment other than listing it as his address on the arrest report. In most search warrant cases, prosecutors try to link defendants to illegal items by showing that they were leaseholders or by explaining that items with the accused person’s name, like mail, credit cards, or other documents, were found near seized materials. 

But prosecutors offered no such evidence against Kalas, Stockslager said. And prosecutors didn’t even know if Kalas was the target of the search warrant.

In fact, Stockslager said, Kalas lives in Lake County, and he always has. There, he lives with his mom and sister, whom he helps support by working at a recording studio. She explained that he teaches music to children, regularly attends church in Gurnee, and teaches vacation Bible school there.

Ortiz, the judge, also expressed concern about the “quality” of the evidence presented, but she held Kalas in lieu of $50,000 bail nonetheless. He must post 10% of that to go home. He’s charged with possessing more than 900 grams of cocaine, possession of a firearm, and misdemeanor resisting.

But Ortiz also held Kalas without bail for violation of bond in the felony cannabis case that he was charged with on December 21. The judge handling that case will review his bail on Wednesday.

Those charges stem from a traffic stop in the 2000 block of South Loomis. During a bail hearing last month, prosecutor Kenneth Flesch said cops smelled burnt cannabis coming from Kalas’ vehicle and saw a bulge in his hoodie pocket that they thought could be a weapon. The officers patted him down, but they did not find a weapon. They did, however, find $9,000 in cash on his person, Flesch alleged.

In the back seat of his car, cops found 161 grams, or about 5-1/2 ounces, of marijuana, Flesch said. When they asked him who the pot belonged to, Kalas allegedly said it was his.

Judge Kelly McCarthy released him on his own recognizance at the end of the December hearing.

Our original reporting is 100% reader-funded. Please contribute to our operating fund or purchase a subscription today.

About CWBChicago 6692 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com