PAXTON — A Rantoul man pleaded guilty to felony theft and was sentenced to five years in state prison this week for stealing a pickup truck and then setting it on fire in Paxton.
Jared A. Mikules, 24, was charged in Ford County Circuit Court in December with one count each of arson, a Class 2 felony; theft of property valued between $500 and $10,000, a Class 3 felony; and criminal damage to property, a Class 4 felony.
On Monday, Judge Paul Lawrence accepted a plea agreement negotiated between State's Attorney Matt Fitton and Mikules' court-appointed attorney, David Rumley of Bloomington.
In return for Mikules pleading guilty to theft, Lawrence dismissed the other charges and sentenced him to five years in prison, with credit for time served at the county jail from Dec. 29 through March 31. Mikules was also ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the victim.
Mikules asked to be considered for the Illinois Department of Corrections' Impact Incarceration Program, and Fitton had no objection to the request.
Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said Mikules was arrested after police found a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck "fully engulfed" behind Heartland Health Care Center in Paxton. Police contacted the vehicle's owner, Robert Jade Tavenner, who said he was unaware the truck was no longer at his home.
Bane said police believe Mikules stole the truck — which was unlocked with its keys inside — after a vehicle he had borrowed "quit running." The other vehicle was found near the location from where the pickup truck was stolen, Bane said.