The former New Athens police chief pleaded guilty to a felony charge of official misconduct on Thursday afternoon and received a sentence of 18 months probation.
Former chief Dallas Hill, 27, won't have to report to a probation officer, but he will be a convicted felon and no longer able to be a police officer or carry a gun.
Hill admitted that he removed an Apple iPod and Apple iPad from the department's evidence locker and used them for personal matters. Police learned of the theft from an anonymous tip to the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, who investigated the case.
A forensic search of the electronics turned up Hill's personal information on the electronic devices, according to Assistant State's Attorney Julie Elliot.
Hill faced two felony counts of official misconduct and one felony count of theft over $300. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped one count of misconduct and the theft charge.
Hill and his lawyer, Van Lear Eckert, declined to comment after the sentencing.
"Bad cops insult the sacrifice and courage of good cops," said State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. "Ninety-nine percent of police officers work hard and put their lives on the line for our safety every day and they do it with integrity."
Hill's wife sat in the jury box and cried as Circuit Judge Jan Fiss found Hill guilty and ordered him to turn in his gun and his badge.
The police chief was removed from his job "instantly" when he was charged, according to New Athens Village President Gary Kearns. Hill continued to collect a check as late as last week, village records showed. Hill earned an annual salary of $43,804.
The village trustees, at Kearns' recommendation, placed Hill on unpaid leave on Nov. 13 -- a week after his arrest. On Dec. 18, Kearns issued a directive, restoring Hill's pay, along with the back pay.
"I made a mistake," Kearns said. "Under the law, we were required to pay him."
The village board did not vote to restore Hill's pay, Kearns stated.
Trustee Arlene Geppert said Kearns didn't give them the option to restore Hill's pay, but issued an order for the village clerk to pay Hill.
"The board of trustees voted not pay him," said Trustee Ron Hampton. "We did not want to pay him."
Trustees David Kreher, Larry Weber, Don Hall and Richard Klein, who is running for village president, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In addition to working full-time for New Athens, Hill also worked as a part-time officer for Lenzburg. Police Chief Skip Mize said Thursday that Hill was relieved of his duties immediately after he was charged.
New Athens, located in the southwest corner of St. Clair County, has a population of 1,981 and employs four full-time police officers.