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Man gets 3 years in prison after restaurant meal thefts

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CHARLESTON — A prosecutor said a man offered no explanation for why he stole food from a restaurant by refusing to pay his bill for the second time in about two months.

The suspect, Anthony M. Malabehar, 47, whose address on record is 1721 DeWitt Ave., Mattoon, pleaded guilty to a theft charge that accused him of stealing from the Alamo Steak House restaurant in Mattoon on April 4. He was sentenced to prison for three years.

That incident took place less than a month after he pleaded guilty in a case that accused him of stealing from another Mattoon restaurant in the same fashion.

Police records in Malabehar’s case say he ordered a meal, an appetizer and drinks from the Alamo Steak House and then refused to pay the bill, which totaled nearly $70.

A theft of that amount is normally a misdemeanor offense but Malabehar was charged with a felony because of his criminal record, which apparently includes several theft and other property offense convictions in Cook County.

Malabehar was also eligible for an extended prison sentence, up to six years or twice the normal maximum, because of his earlier convictions. A burglary charge that accused him of entering the restaurant planning to steal was dismissed, and a conviction for that offense would have required a three- to 14-year prison term.

Also, Malabehar was discharged with an unsuccessful record from the supervision sentence he received for the earlier restaurant theft. In that case, he was accused of stealing food and drinks by refusing to pay his bill at Hunan Restaurant in Mattoon on Feb. 2.

Assistant State’s Attorney Rob Scales said Malabehar never gave an explanation of why he stole from the restaurants. During both incidents, he told restaurant workers that he couldn’t pay then waited for police to arrive without causing any other problems, Scales said.

Malabehar’s sentence also included restitution to the restaurant and a $100 fine. Circuit Judge Mitchell Shick based the sentence on a plea agreement that Scales and Public Defender Lonnie Lutz recommended.

Contact Fopay at dfopay@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6858.

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LaSalle County Coroner Rich Ploch said the office received the results Wednesday, but he declined to comment on the report’s content “due to the ongoing investigation.”

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