Second man sentenced in Paxton burglary

Second man sentenced in Paxton burglary

PAXTON — A second Danville man charged in connection with burglaries at a Paxton jewelry and coin shop has been sentenced to probation and will pay restitution in an amount far lower than the shop's owner claims was stolen.

"Christmas is coming a little early for you," Ford County Judge Steve Pacey told Brandon M. Enos, 27, on Tuesday.

Enos — one of three Danville men charged in connection with burglaries at Hewerdine's Coin & Jewelry — was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution to the shop's owner, Richard Hewerdine.

Enos received the sentence in return for pleading guilty to possession of stolen property ($500 to $10,000), a Class 3 felony, as part of a plea agreement negotiated between his attorney and Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton. A more serious charge of burglary, a Class 2 felony, was dismissed.

Enos was the second defendant to plead guilty in a one-week span. On June 25, Ryan P. McLaughlin, 27, pleaded guilty to theft of over $500, a Class 3 felony, and a charge of burglary was dismissed. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and to pay $5,000 in restitution.

The third suspect, Ryan M. Banks, 29, rejected a plea offer from Fitton on Tuesday and is scheduled for trial the week of July 15. A plea agreement could not be reached because Banks is not interested in pleading guilty to Class 3 felony theft, and there is disagreement over restitution, his attorney, Donald Parkinson of Champaign, told Pacey. Banks is charged with one count of burglary.

Meanwhile, the 78-year-old Hewerdine, who was in court Tuesday, estimated that $175,000 in jewelry and coins were stolen from his store, located on the second floor of the Paxton Post Office, during burglaries that occurred Jan. 21, 2013, and Sept. 26, 2012. Hewerdine said he has "not a penny" of insurance to cover the losses.

Fitton said he offered the plea deals that called for a far less amount of restitution to be paid because he cannot prove the value stolen. Fitton said none of Hewerdine's jewelry was appraised or inventoried, and only some was recovered.

Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane had said in February that police recovered a "large amount" of stolen property "connecting both burglaries to these three men," but he declined to provide an estimated value, since police "have a different opinion from Mr. Hewerdine."

Fitton also noted that neither Enos nor McLaughlin had a felony conviction, which made them eligible for probation.

In 2007, Enos pleaded guilty in Vermilion County Circuit Court to criminal trespass to a residence, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge of residential burglary was dismissed. He received two years of probation.

McLaughlin's only criminal history consists of two convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, from cases in 2009 and 2011.

Banks, on the other hand, has a felony conviction. He pleaded guilty to burglary, a Class 2 felony, in Vermilion County and received three years of probation in 2001. He also pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis, a misdemeanor, in 2008 and received one year of probation.

Enos apologized to Hewerdine after his court hearing.

"Sorry," Enos said. "It was a bad time."

Hewerdine, who was clearly disappointed with McLaughlin's sentence last week, told Enos that he had no sympathy for him. He mentioned that Enos decided to burglarize his store not once, but twice.

All three men had been customers of Hewerdine and had visited his store several times, Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said.

Following the second burglary, Bane said, police "developed information" that led to Enos' suspected involvement in both burglaries. In the course of their investigation, they learned that Enos had pawned jewelry in Las Vegas, Arizona and Danville. Police said some of the items sold at all three locations were positively identified as Hewerdine's. Police later executed a search warrant at Enos' home in Danville, where they recovered jewelry and coins believed to be stolen from Hewerdine's store.

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Christianways987 wrote on July 04, 2013 at 9:07 am

Everyday I read articles on younger and younger committing crimes. It is so sad to watch people destroy futures. I have commented on a few other articles in other papers. As I was reading the last articles on these 3 men I prayed that God would give them a chance. I understand wrong doing is wrong doing BUT let's try and help our young not put in the system and destroy. Understandably so the owner Mr.Hewerdine is mad and upset but it is time to forgive. I am a Christian person and something similar happened to me but I had to forgive an this young man is a part of my life.

I read the first article and it didn't state that Mr. McLaughlin said anything to the owner. The second states Mr. Enos at least said he was sorry. He didnt have to say anything. I pray for these men as well as others that have made a mistake. 

In the articles Mr. Hewerdine states it was a few different amounts and this much was taken and no insurance, with that amount of valuables makes me question if the amount he stated was true. I am not by far saying that anyone is not telling the truth but it is questionable. When I read 20 years is what he would like to see happen made me pray for this man as well. 

 I will continue to pray for all in this situation. May God put forgiveness in your heart and may God lead you in the path of love and compassion.  Sam


finally wrote on July 05, 2013 at 11:07 am

You just never know what's going to happen in the Ford County court. My son's case was about $3,000.00 from an ATM machine, a nonviolent crime, no proof of the envelope, yet he was convicted, gets sentenced to 4 years, doesn't even make it to the department of corrections, and dies suddenly in the county jail. You can read below what happened. I wish the judge had given my son an early Christmas, but instead my son lost his life.

 I cannot believe the way my son's case was handled. Ford County claims that my son committed fraudulent atm charges by depositing an empty envelope to the atm. I have many issues with the evidential basis of this case. I don't understand why a prosecutor would even take the case against my son. They claim that he committed fraud by depositing a blank envelope, however if this is true and the prosecutor has said envelope then why was it not presented as evidence? There was no evidence of any empty envelope, no employee who opened the envelope, no video showing the employee opening the envelope, and no statement from anyone claiming that they opened an empty envelope. In light of all this lack of information I am astonished that this case was even prosecuted. 
Based on the facts, it seems to me that the prosecutor believed what the bank said without any physical evidence, this is not how a trial should be handled. In order to ensure impartiality and justice there has to be a requirement for physical evidence or else any random claim against anyone could be "evidence." This leads me to wonder what causes the prosecutor to believe the bank's word against my son's word. If there is no physical evidence of the envelope, no testimony of an employee who opened the envelope, and no video evidence, then what is the reason for believing the bank over my son?
Would this not have been an easy case to prosecute with the physical evidence and statements from the bank employees who opened the envelope? Or at least the empty envelope they claim to have received (which I am sure had to have written information on it such as the amount of deposit, name of the depositor, account number of the depositor, all in his handwriting.)? The bank produced a video of my son making the deposit, so then why is there no video or any other proof that supports their claim that the envelope he depositied was empty? What happened to the envelope? Was it lost? Disposed of? In any case, the fact remains that the envelope was NOT presented, so again, I do not understand what the grounds for this case were. They provide evidence of him making a deposit, yet no evidence of what they claim. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that they formed a case against my son without any evidence. 
My son never denied making a deposit. The vice president of the bank says it was brought to his attention that they received an empty envelope, but there is no proof of this. I would imagine that if the bank had received an empty envelope that they would keep that envelope as proof in a trial. If not that, then I would assume that they would at least need the testimony of the employee that opened the envelope, but again, no such evidence was provided. Which further supports the fact that my son was convicted based purely on hearsay. 
There was a police officer who brought a video from the bank of Rantoul to the Farmers-Merchants national bank in Paxton testifying that it was my son in the video, which my son did not deny, however the police officer from Rantoul did not provide any additional information or statements about an empty envelope nor did he receive any statements from any bank employees. The only thing that they proved in this was that my son made a deposit, which my son already stated. The rest seems to be literally pulled out of thin air due to the fact that there was no evidence supporting it. I do not see how it was necessary to provide a police officer's testimony stating that my son made a deposit when my son had already said that he did. My son used his own ATM card and did not disguise himself or try to hide from the camera, so it seems to me that this was supposed to be an attempt at providing some sort of evidence that they could twist since they didn't have any evidence of what they actually claimed my son did. 
A paxton bank employee also stated that my son opened an account 2 or 3 weeks prior to the deposit and she proceeded to read off my son's transactions which I believe were done about 1 or 2 days after he made the deposit. I do not see why this was necessary either as it didn't include any information about an empty envelope. The employee claimed that she was told by the Rantoul bank that they received an empty envelope, so she was simply regurgitating what the bank of Rantoul told her. Again, HEARSAY. There was no proof of what they claimed, so what was the purpose of her testimony? I believe that this was yet another attempt to twist what happened to make it look like evidence against my son because they did not truly have evidence against him, so they were doing their best to pull some evidence out of thin air.

finally wrote on July 05, 2013 at 11:07 am

 A paxton police officer said that he went to investigate and that when he last investigated my son still had about $800.00 in his account. If he supposedly made an empty deposit then how is there any money in his account at all? Did this police officer provide any evidence of an empty envelope? No, he did not. He also did not give any statements from any employees about said envelope. Nobody from the bank ever testified stating that they viewed an empty envelope, NOT THE FORD COUNTY STATES ATTORNEY, not the bank's vice president, not the police officer from the bank of rantoul, not the employee from the paxton bank, not the police officer from paxton, and NOT HIS PUBLIC DEFENDER,(public defender should have subponaed bank employess and the bank records) Again, NO physical evidence of any kind was provided by any of these people who made the claim against my son. 
Think about it, if the bank says that they received an empty envelope then why wouldn't they produce the envelope? That envelope would have had my son's information on it in his own writing, so it would have been just the evidence they needed to make the case stick, however it was not provided. Why didn't they produce the video of an employee witnessing that the envelope was empty? They were able to produce a video of my son making the deposit, so why not bring the most important video which is of the employee receiving the "empty envelope." Or at least provide notarized statements from the bank employees if they were unable to be present? There wasn't a single shred of evidence provided to support their case against my son. If such evidence was provided then I would not be making such an issue of this, however it wasn't provided, so why would the prosecutor take so much time on this case when there wasn't any evidence to support it? 
I cannot believe that the judge denied every motion either. As soon as the jurors went to deliberate, the judge said " Boy, from now on when I go make a deposit at the ATM I better hold my envelope to the camera so it shows that I made a deposit." It is evident that even the judge is aware of how ambiguous and ineffective the video is simply from his statement, yet he still denied the motion for a new trial. 
On my son's last appearance before the judge, someone confessed to what they were accusing my son of, however that did not matter to the judge. He still convicted my son even though the person who confessed had a written, signed, and notarized confession. My son was then returned to Ford county jail and less than 48 hours after the court appearance was found deceased in a single cell. I just cannot understand why this happened. How could a jury find someone guilty on hearsay and ignore the complete lack of physical evidence. The worst part is that at his last hearing a confession was presented and the states attorney said he never received that confession, only 2 other letters from his family, but he did not produce the letter of the confession. Why was the confession never investigated? Would this confession have exposed a conspiracy? It just seems so strange that barely two days after the confession my son passes away.
Harvey Welch, you were supposed to be Rich’s defender, however to me it seems as though you were part of the prosecution. You knew that there was no physical evidence presented by the prosecution yet you did nothing to rebut the prosecution’s claims. You did not subpoena anyone who supposedly witnessed that my son deposited an empty envelope, you did not rebut their claim even though it wasn’t supported by any evidence. 
I just can't believe this happened. My son is suddenly gone forever. He was a father, a son, a brother and he will always be in our hearts. 
On top of this, I feel that the corruption extended into the county jail where it was ruled by the coroner that my son's death was accidental due to stress on his heart caused by a scapular(shoulder blade) injury from a fall off of a table. I cannot divulge much more information about this because it is currently in litigation, however you can read about it in the link here.