In this June 14 file photo, James Rellihan, right, talks with his attorney, Brendan Bukalski, in a courtroom of the McLean County Law and Justice Center, Bloomington, after he pleaded guilty in connection with the theft of opioid patches from nursing home residents. 

BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man accused of stealing opioid patches from terminally ill nursing home residents pleaded guilty Thursday to residential burglary.

James Rellihan, 31, agreed to the open plea deal that does not include a specific sentence. Judge Casey Costigan will make that decision July 25. Five other felony charges were dismissed in the plea agreement.

The deal requires Rellihan to surrender his nursing license. He is eligible for four to 15 years in prison. He also may be sentenced to Adult Court and Probation Services (TASC) probation, a specialized community-based program for people whose offenses are tied to addiction and used as alternative sentence to prison or jail. 

Defense attorney Brendan Bukalski is expected to request probation at the sentencing hearing.

The intial charges against Rellihan detailed two visits he made in February to Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center and Heritage Health in Normal.

At the time, he was employed as a nurse at the Bloomington facility, but was not on duty Feb. 24 when he entered a resident's room and took a pain patch from the resident living there, said police. 

Two days later, Rellihan allegedly went to the Normal nursing home where he previously worked and removed a patch from a terminally ill person there.

Rellihan denied the allegations during his interviews with police following a review of surveillance video from the Bloomington nursing home and statements from workers in Normal who said they saw him in the building.

But in recordings of jail phone calls between Rellihan and an unidentified person, he admitted to taking the pain patches, according to a statement given to the judge by Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Horve.

Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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