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Crime spree nets 17 years

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A Vandalia man who eluded police for more than a day after a widespread crime spree in Fayette County last December has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.
At a hearing last Wednesday in Fayette County Circuit Court, Associate Judge Allan Lolie sentenced Kenneth Weldon on charges of residential burglary, aggravated possession of a stolen firearm, four counts of burglary and three counts of possession of a stolen vehicle.
Weldon, 30, signed an open guilty plea in July to the charges, which stemmed from a number of incidents in different parts of the county on Dec. 19 and 20 of last year.
In agreeing to that plea, Fayette County State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel stipulated that he would not seek a prison term of more than 30 years.
He was sentenced to 17 years in prison on the residential burglary charge, which alleged that he entered a residence in rural Brownstown with the intent to commit a theft.
Weldon was also sentenced to 10 years in prison on the stolen firearm possession charge, and seven years on each of the burglary and stolen vehicle charges.
All of the prison sentences will be served concurrently.
Lolie also ordered Weldon to pay restitution totaling $2,276.43 to five parties.
The stolen firearm charge is a Class X felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He was eligible for extended terms, increasing the maximum to 60 years.
The other charges were either Class 1 or Class 2 felonies, but he was sentenced as a Class X offender on those charges.
The possession of a stolen firearm charge alleged that Weldon was not allowed to possess firearms and that he did so with the knowledge that they were stolen.
Charges filed by Friedel’s office alleged that the firearms he possessed included a .22-caliber rifle; two 12-gauge, pump-action shotguns, a 20-gauge, bolt-action shotgun; 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun; and an SKS 7.62-mm rifle.
The charges allege that the stole a Honda all-terrain vehicle, 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck and 2004 Chevrolet pickup truck.
They also allege that Weldon, who was represented by appointed defender Trent West, illegally entered five buildings with the intent to commit thefts.
The charges stated that the offenses occurred in rural Vandalia, rural Ramsey and rural Brownstown, with Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Chancey prosecuting the case.