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Shobonier man sentenced to 17 years in prison

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By The Staff

A Shobonier man who was charged with sex acts with a minor has agreed to a lengthy prison term.

Michael E. Cunningham Sr., 57, signed a plea agreement last week for two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

In doing so, Cunningham accepted a nine-year prison term for one count and an eight-year term for the second. Those terms will be served consecutively, which translates to a total of 17 years in prison.

Under Illinois law, in major felony cases such as this, the offender is required to serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence.

Fayette County States Attorney Stephen Friedel charged Cunningham on June 29 of last year with four counts of sex acts with a child under the age of 13 between June 19 and June 23, 2007. Two of those counts were dismissed as a result of the plea bargain.

Each of the counts to which Cunningham pleaded guilty is a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

During the course of this case, Cunningham attempted to argue that he was unfit to stand trial. On the recommendation of a doctor who evaluated Cunningham, the court rejected that attempt.