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Illinois man gets 4 years for theft from dead man

OTTAWA, Ill. - An Illinois man has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing sterling silverware and checks from a man who lay dead in his house for at least a month.

Brandon Holt, 32, of Ladd, was sentenced Thursday in La Salle County Court after entering a blind plea in August to four counts of forgery and one count of theft, the (LaSalle) News-Tribune reported. He was ordered to pay about $7,400 in restitution.

Holt was charged shortly after Peru, Ill. police found 77-year-old James Aitken dead in his home on April 30. Holt had been hired to do odd jobs for Aitken, who died of natural causes.

Aitken's relatives discovered items were missing from his house, which led investigators to find that Holt wrote himself checks totaling $4,700 from Aitken's account. A Peru pawn shop owner confirmed Holt had exchanged a box of sterling silverware that Aitken's relatives described.

It's unclear exactly how long Aitken had been dead prior to the theft. Holt forged his first check April 1, which suggests he was dead for at least a month, authorities said.