Thirty-seven-year-old Romeoville man Frederick Tapley told police he was overwhelmed with financial stress when he stole and pawned a deceased patient's wedding and engagement rings, but regardless the man was sentenced to a two-year prison sentence for the crime Thursday.
Tapley, a former hospital worker, pleaded guilty to felony theft in March, just over a year and a half after he stole the rings from 72-year-old Dolores Yukness after she died from cancer-related complications last July in Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, where Tapley worked, in Downers Grove. The rings were worth an estimated $3,500 and were pawned for $200 -- cash he used to pay his cable bill, reportedly.
While the man soon "realized he made a huge mistake" and helped lead police toward recovering the rings, DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin rejected Tapley's attorney's request for a probation sentence since the man had been convicted of a similar crime at an Oak Park hospital a decade earlier, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"It's a moral affront when the deceased are victimized and you've victimized the deceased again and again," Guerin told Tapley, according to the Sun-Times. "I think you don't understand the seriousness of this offense."
Yukness' daughter, Kristen, said her mother almost never removed the ring set and said "no greater sign of disrespect could have been shown" than their theft, as the Chicago Daily-Herald reported.
Tapley could have received a maximum sentence of five years for the crime. He was taken into custody immediately following Thursday's sentencing.