Man sentenced to probation in anhydrous theft

Man sentenced to probation in anhydrous theft

WATSEKA — A second man from Rankin has been sentenced to probation for his involvement in the theft of anhydrous ammonia from a fertilizer-storage area near Cissna Park last fall.

Chris M. Hofbauer, 29, pleaded guilty this week in Iroquois County Circuit Court to one count of unlawful possession of anhydrous ammonia in an unauthorized container, a Class 3 felony. In return for his plea, charges of tampering with anhydrous ammonia equipment and unlawful possession of anhydrous ammonia were dismissed.

Judge Gordon Lustfeldt sentenced Hofbauer to 30 months of probation and 90 days in jail, with credit for time already served. He was no longer at the Iroquois County Jail as of Friday.

Hofbauer was also ordered to pay a fine of $500, court costs, a drug assessment fee of $500 and a DNA fee of $250.

Hofbauer's accomplice, Dewey Couch Jr., 52, also received a 30-month probation sentence after pleading guilty, as part of a plea agreement, on Feb. 1 to one count of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, a Class 4 felony.

The two men, who both listed the same address in Rankin, were charged with multiple felonies in connection with the theft of anhydrous ammonia on Oct. 19 at Crop Production Services in rural Cissna Park.

Sheriff Derek Hagen said deputies had been watching the facility in an effort to curb a recent increase in the theft of anhydrous ammonia, an ingredient commonly used in the illegal production of methamphetamine. After police saw the theft occur, the two men drove away in a 1995 Geo Tracker and a 7-minute chase ensued.

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