Former UI employee pleads guilty in book theft

A 71-year-old former employee of the University of Illinois (UI) pleaded guilty to the theft of two rare musical books from the school's library in revenge for perceived wrongs in the way that he was treated.

The books were valued at more than $500 each. Their absence didn't go unnoticed, but nobody had any idea who had taken them until the thief sold one of the books to a vendor. The vendor, in turn, unwittingly tried to resell the book back to the university. A sharp-eyed staff member noticed that the copy of the "Le Quattro Stagioni" offered for sale had the same markings as the copy that had gone missing.

After an investigation, it was discovered that more than 25 rare books, worth about $11,000 all together, were missing from a university musical collection. Only some of those were ultimately recovered.

The thief, who had been both a graduate student and an employee of the music library at some point, will serve two years of "second chance probation." That will include 30 hours of public service, among any other requirements from the court.

Second chance probation is somewhat unique to Illinois law. It's a type of deferred adjudication that allows the court to sentence the defendant to some kind of probationary punishment without entering any judgment on the defendant's record. Only those who have never been convicted of a felony and non-violent offenders are eligible. Once the probationary period (which must be two years or longer) is over, the charges against the defendant can be dismissed, sparing them a criminal conviction that could haunt their steps.

There are many different potential solutions to a criminal case. If you've been charged with a crime, find out more about your available options.

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