A Fox River Grove woman accused of selling her boyfriend's boat after he skipped town with another woman admitted to a reduced charge Monday under a plea deal that allows her to avoid a potential felony conviction.
Kathleen M. Helman, 52, of the 700 block of Northwest Highway, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted forgery alleging she falsified a title document in August 2006 to consummate the unauthorized sale.
Under the plea agreement, Helman was placed on nonreporting probation for a year, fined $500 and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service. She also must return to court May 7 for a hearing to determine how much restitution she owes her former boyfriend for selling his 1998 22-foot Wellcraft Scarab.
Helman initially had been charged with theft between $10,000 and $100,000, a Class 2 felony punishable by a maximum three to seven years in prison.
Her attorney, Senior Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof, said Helman's name was also on the boat's title and she sold it only when she could no longer afford to make loan payments.
"She had to sell it," he said, adding that he will argue that Helman's ex deserves no restitution. "She was trying not to let her credit go in the toilet."
McHenry County Sheriff's police arrested Helman in November 2008 after an investigation that began when the boat's owner and his new girlfriend returned to the area from Arizona to check on property and belongings he had left behind.
When he discovered his boat was missing, police said, the man went to his bank, believing it had been repossessed. Instead, they discovered it had been sold online for $21,000 to a Minnesota man. Investigators eventually tracked the sale back to Helman who, police said, had forged documents to make it happen.
The Minnesota man, police said, was allowed to keep the boat.