A LaSalle County judge is giving a Streator woman time to let her employer know she won’t be back at work for a while because of something she did on her last job. Forty-four year old Sharon A. McNeal is a registered nurse who pleaded guilty two months ago to stealing money from patients at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Ottawa.
She tearfully told Judge H. Chris Ryan Thursday afternoon there’s no excuse for what she did, the shame will never go away, and she apologizes. Ryan sentenced McNeal to four months behind bars, two-and-a-half years on probation, and restitution payments of $1,881. Some of the money is going to victims in incidents she wasn’t charged for.
Ryan agreed with Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Kidder that the crime is “despicable”. Kidder asked for a three-year prison sentence for McNeal. He said McNeal was in a position of trust and authority when she went through the pockets of medical center patients getting X-rays or MRI’s. Kidder said McNeal deserved harsh punishment.
Defense lawyer Ryan Hamer asked for probation and possible weekends in jail. He said that despite a rough go in the 1990s when McNeal got in trouble for shoplifting and forgery and was sent to prison twice, she had done a lot to straighten out. Hamer said McNeal earned honors in nursing school, but her on-the-job crime last summer means she lost that career. She’s been working at a donut shop.
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s license lookup showed McNeal’s license is still active and has never been limited because of disciplinary action. However, Hamer said in court that he understood her license was suspended.
McNeal has until 6pm Friday to report to the county jail.