ELKHORN-A two-year-old drug case against four Illinois men was dismissed Wednesday when a police officer was not available as a prosecution witness.

Bloomfield police officer David Kirmsse was on a leave of absence and could not attend the preliminary hearing for Alec C. Billing, 27, Charles G. Persico, 27, and Sam Stringini, 27, of Elmhurst, and Robert S. Stringing, 66, of Schaumburg. All four men had been charged with felony manufacturing of marijuana.

According to a criminal complaint, officers saw the four men May 28, 2003, in a wooded area near the town of Lyons. They had camouflage clothing and headlamp flashlights, along with various tools, radios and police scanners.

Robert Stringini was located in a nearby van and was arrested for not having a valid driver's license. He and the three others were released by police.

The next day, police located 56 growing marijuana plants in a field near to where the men were found.

The attorney for the four men declined comment since the case could be recharged.