Richard Rollyson was a successful insurance adjustor and construction contractor with no criminal record before he fell from his motorcycle and injured his knee six years ago, he told a judge this week.


That led to addiction to a pain-killing drug, then to heroin when his prescription expired, then to theft of the $16,000 an elderly Pekin woman gave him to work on her rental house, Rollyson, 45, testified.


“I never would’ve done that” as a sober man, Rollyson said at his sentence hearing Wednesday. “I promise to pay every cent back.”


He’ll get the chance, Tazewell County Circuit Judge Stephen Kouri replied, with a simple condition attached:


Find work and start paying by July 7, or go to prison.


Kouri said that’s the mandate he’s earned for, by Rollyson’s own description, wasting a first chance to avoid incarceration by beginning restitution to his 84-year-old victim after he pleaded guilty to felony theft last October.


Though his sentence date was continued twice, he produced “not one penny,” Kouri said, and then failed to appear when the latest date arrived on Feb. 9.


Rollyson testified that his attempts to wean himself from heroin had failed and he was still spending up to $300 a day on the drug until his arrest a week later.

He’s become sober during his stay in jail since then, and is determined “to show my 14-year-old son how to make things right.”


Kouri gave him a last chance. “I’ll let him go and see what he does” while free on bond until his July 7 sentencing.


“If you do or you don’t” begin paying back his victim “will make a significant impact” on whether Rollyson will receive probation to continue that task or go to prison for up to seven years, Kouri warned him.


He added a final warning. “If you fail to appear again, it’s not going to be good.”


Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin