A Champaign County business owner and a former elected official pleaded guilty Thursday to charges accusing him of writing bad checks through his business totaling $28,000.
Edward L. Preston, owner of Preston’s IGA in Mechanicsburg, pleaded guilty to a single count of passing bad checks, a first degree misdemeanor. In a separate but related case in which Preston was acting as the statutory agent for the business, Preston pleaded guilty to one count each of passing bad checks and grand theft, both fourth degree felonies.
Authorities said the charges stemmed from an investigation by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office in which vendors filed complaints against the business.
Court records show Preston was accused of issuing checks to at least three vendors knowing they would not be honored.
Preston and his attorney, Ron Tompkins, agreed to a plea agreement in which Preston could potentially avoid jail time in exchange for a guilty plea to the three charges.
In return, Preston has agreed to pay more than $28,000 in restitution to the victims involved in the case, said Kevin Talebi, Champaign County prosecutor. Preston has already paid about $3,000 into an account that will be used to repay the vendors, Talebi said.
A pre-sentence investigation was also ordered in the case, and a final sentencing hearing will be scheduled for March 8.
Preston, who previously served as Champaign County clerk of courts, purchased Preston’s IGA in 2008. Although he spent time in public service, Preston has previously said he spent much of his earlier career in the grocery business.
The business, the only full-service grocery store in Mechanicsburg, has since closed.