QUINCY — After refusing last week to accept a 15-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections in exchange for guilty pleas to five burglary charges, Zachary Laffey reached a new plea deal and stunningly agreed Wednesday to guilty pleas on even more charges which could lead to a sentence of as many as 25 years.
Laffey, 28, had apparently agreed to plead guilty to five counts of burglary (all Class 2 felonies) and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon (a Class 3 felony) when he appeared before Judge John Wooleyhan in Adams County Circuit Court on Sept. 7.
Assistant state’s attorney Todd Eyler said Laffey had agreed to three-year sentences in the Illinois Department of Corrections on each of the burglary counts, with each sentence running consecutively for a total of 15 years. He also agreed to a two-year sentence for the possession of a firearm count, and it was to have run concurrently with the burglary sentence.
However, Laffey changed his mind that day after being “kind of confused” by what he read in the charging documents. He explained he was under the influence of drugs during the burglaries. He also wanted to know why he was offered 15 years for his first offense in Illinois.
Wooleyhan agreed to continue the case for a week.
Laffey was back in court Wednesday afternoon with public defender Vanessa Pratt, and this time, he pled guilty to six burglary charges and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Two counts of residential burglary, both Class 1 felonies, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The sentencing range for each of the burglary charges is 3-7 years. The sentencing range for the charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon is 2-10 years. Laffey agreed to a cap of 25 years total in the plea. He is eligible for probation for the burglaries but not for the firearm charges.
Judge Amy Lannerd will sentence Laffey on Oct. 31.
“I can’t tell you why Mr. Laffey made the decision he made, but I was glad to accommodate him,” Eyler said after the plea hearing.
A grand jury filed a bill of indictment on June 23, determining that Laffey had committed burglaries on:
- April 16 when he entered a storage facility owned by Terry Newell, 1398 N. 1300th Avenue.
- May 7 when he entered a building at 700 S. Fourth owned by Charles Hull, Jr.
- May 8 when he entered two units at the same storage facility owned by Newell.
- May 25 when he entered a storage facility owned by Express Storage at 1400 Spring Lake Road.
- June 3 when he entered the home of Barbara Wingerter at 3700 Harrison Court. This originally was charged as residential burglary, but Eyler amended the charge because Wingerter did not use the home as her primary residence. Wingerter told investigators she arrived at her home to find the garage door and another door were open, and the home had been ransacked. Among the items taken were a 55-inch TV and tools.
- June 7 when he entered the home of Trevor Akers, 4101 N. 72nd. This originally was charged as residential burglary, but Eyler amended the charge because Wingerter did not use the home as his primary residence. Laffey also had two charges of unlawful possession of a weapon as a felon on this date after stealing a .22-caliber pistol and a tote stuffed with multiple firearms from Akers’ home. He previously was convicted of a felony in Livingston County, Mo.
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