Accused heroin dealer convicted under RICO law sentenced to 20 years

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Terrence Steele | photo from DuPage County state’s attorney’s office

(WHEATON) A Northwest Side man who was the first person to be convicted in DuPage County under the state’s RICO law has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Terrence Steele was one of 31 people arrested in August 2013 following a six-month investigation into a drug ring operating in Cook and DuPage counties, prosecutors said.

A jury found him guilty last November of heroin possession and sales, and violations of the Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law, or RICO, which went into effect in 2014, the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office said.

Steele, 36, of the 1600 block of North Parkside, was sentenced to 20 years in prison at a hearing Thursday before Judge Robert Kleeman, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Under the RICO law, individuals facing specific charges such as drug trafficking face stiffer penalties if it can be proved their illegal activities were part of a larger criminal conspiracy involving others and conducted over a period of time, prosecutors said.

To date, Steele is the highest-ranking member of the alleged drug ring to be tried and sentenced, prosecutors said.

“For Mr. Steele, it was all about the money,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a prepared statement. “He didn’t care about the pain and heartache he was dispensing gram by gram throughout DuPage County. He didn’t care about the lives, families and communities he was poisoning. All he cared about was enriching his life at the expense of others.”

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