Illinois man sent to prison for stealing $5 donation

02/21/07 -- JIM SUHR  - BELLEVILLE, Ill. — A convicted felon was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for plucking a $5 bill from a collection jar intended to help a policeman blinded in a shooting.

Richard Hedger II, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to felony theft for stealing from the jar, placed on a thrift-store counter. Money in the jar was meant for Belleville police Sgt. Jon Brough, 48, who was shot in the face and permanently blinded in November by a double-slaying suspect who later killed himself.

"We've had so much community support, then you get someone who steps in and snatches money," said police Lt. Don Sax, whose said his dealings with Hedger have included peace disturbances, assaults and other thefts.

A cashier at the Community Kindness Resale Shoppe said she saw Hedger with the jar just before she noticed a $5 bill missing Dec. 27. The shop's general manager said Hedger apologized before he was taken away in handcuffs.

Hedger was charged with a felony because of a prior felony conviction. He received a two-year sentence in 2004 after pleading guilty to aggravated battery, for spitting on another Belleville police officer.

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