Duckworth sentencing delayed

URBANA — A Rantoul man who was convicted in October of nine counts of theft said he wants a different attorney.

Chuck Duckworth, 49, of 114 N. Kentucky Ave., told Champaign County Circuit Judge Roger Webber Friday afternoon that he no longer wants Savoy attorneys Jim Dedman and Cheri Kesler to represent him.

After Duckworth’s bench trial, Webber had set sentencing for Friday. That and a ruling on Duckworth’s request for a new trial will be delayed until he hires a new attorney.

Duckworth faces penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison on the most serious count and a maximum of five years on prison on the other eight.

Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher also said he intends to seek restitution for the victims. Duckworth, however, has since declared bankruptcy. Webber must decide if restitution is feasible.

Duckworth said he had sufficient funds to hire an attorney and told Webber he had not selected new representation.

Webber set Jan. 12 for a status hearing on Duckworth’s attorney search. The judge told Duckworth if finances are a problem that a public defender can be appointed to represent him.

Duckworth was found guilty of nine counts of felony theft related to services and goods he took from eight contractors who worked on his building, a former hardware store that Duckworth planned to restore. Duckworth was acquitted of another five counts of theft involving four other businesses.

Duckworth said he hired the contractors, believing that he would be coming into an inheritance from his late father, plus he would have money coming in from his cleaning business and the sale of another old building he had successfully renovated.

The village of Rantoul had also approved Duckworth for a $50,000 microloan in June 2014 to be repaid at 4 percent interest over 15 years.

Many of the business people testified over five days in February and April that Duckworth had paid them less than the value of their products or services if at all.

Fletcher said Duckworth continued to allow contractors to do work on the property even when he knew there wasn’t enough money left in the loan fund to cover the cost of what he was getting.

Kesler argued that there were “no clear-cut conversations where (Duckworth) said he didn’t intend to pay” the businesses and said his client was somebody “who was not prepared to be a businessman.”

He said Duckworth declared bankruptcy after he realized that $175,000 he hoped to inherit from his father’s estate would not be coming.

Kesler said there was no proof Duckworth intended to defraud any of the contractors.

In ruling against Duckworth, Webber noted that Duckworth’s father had died in December 2012, and yet he still didn’t know at the time of the April 2017 trial whether there had been an estate opened.

Of the nine counts of theft for which Duckworth was convicted, five are for theft over $300, while three are for theft over $500; and one is for theft over $10,000, the latter victim being Lanz Heating and Cooling.

The other victims include Davis Floor Sanding and Refinishing, Good Vibes (named in two counts), New Age Home Improvement, Contractor Services of Illinois, Classic Granite and Marble, Victor Treat and Sons and ServPro of Clinton.



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