BUHL — A Buhl man is accused of stealing checks from a friend who was in the hospital.

Wyatt Eugene Layton, 19, of Buhl was arraigned Thursday in Twin Falls County Fifth District Court. He’s charged with felony grand theft and forgery.

A court affidavit explains that a man came into the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 22 to report a possible grand theft and forgery of his checkbook. He said it happened sometime between July 25 and Aug. 4 while he was at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.

While in the hospital, the man received a phone call from Money Tree asking if he wrote a $300 check to Layton for chopping wood. The man said he did, but later that day he remembered it was about two years ago.

He contacted the bank to stop the payment and eventually closed his checking account.

Layton — who had previously done work for the man — had earlier come to his hospital room to admit he’d entered the man’s Buhl home, took his checkbook and committed forgery. He apologized. He eventually paid the man $800 back for three checks he’d written.

When the man received a letter from Money Tree saying the check Layton had written didn’t clear, he reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

When a deputy went to Layton’s address, his mother said he’d told her what happened and he’d “tried to make it right.”

She passed along a message to her son to call the Sheriff’s Office. When he did, Layton admitted to going inside the man’s house, taking and forging the checks.

“He wanted to get ahead of it, knew that he did wrong and tried to pay (the man) back,” according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 27.

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