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.