William Hermes of Round Lake Park admitted Monday he sold a small amount of cocaine to a police informant.
However, while Hermes' record will be marked with the felony conviction, at least he can keep the money from the sale of his Ernie Banks baseball card.
Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Fred Day said Hermes, 49, of 408 Willow Road, was arrested Dec. 11 after selling 1.5 grams of cocaine to the informant.
When police searched him after the arrest, they found $1,400 in Hermes' pocket and moved to seize the money.
Under forfeiture laws, Day said, any money confiscated during a drug arrest is assumed to be profit from drug sales unless the person with the money can prove it is not.
Day said Hermes told police a story not frequently heard in these situations.
"He told the officers he was a baseball card collector and that he had just sold an Ernie Banks rookie card," Day said. "It certainly was the most interesting story I have heard under these circumstances, but we had to check it out."
And it did check out, Day said. Police contacted the card buyer who confirmed the transaction. Police followed that up with a visit to the purchaser, who showed them the card and the receipt provided by Hermes.
"The card deal was legitimate, so we gave him the money back," Day said. "The best thing about it was I got to see the card."
Associate Judge Theodore Potkonjak sentenced Hermes to two years probation for the drug sale, and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.