Scales of justice

An orchestrated fall in the Laurel Walmart in an attempt to deceptively collect insurance money will cost Bruce Edward Bayless over $1,400.00 in court costs and fines and place him on probation for three years. Should he not meet court-required community service obligations during that three year period and pay all of his fines, he could find himself in prison.

Bayless’ suspended three-year sentence, with seven days already served, was recommended by Steven Waldrup, a lawyer with the state’s Attorney General’s office who presented the insurance fraud charge against Bayless in front of Circuit Court Judge Dal Williamson on May 28. Toward the end of the plea proceeding, Judge Williamson revealed that a court clerk had just informed him that Bayless had some previous grand larceny convictions. At that point the judge seemed a bit reluctant to concur with the suspended sentence. Waldrup said he was not aware of the previous convictions.

“Why should I go along with this sentence of seven days (and probation) when I feel a just penalty is for you to go do some time?” Judge Williamson asked the defendant.

Bayless told the judge that he had some medical issues, including a scheduled surgery on his left shoulder and some problems with his right foot. Bayless’ attorney later offered that those medical problems, along with Bayless’ high blood pressure and arthritis, could prevent him from doing community service.

Judge Williamson shot that idea right out of the saddle, saying he too had arthritis and high blood pressure and that he had not heard in the testimony of any medical condition that Bayless currently suffers from that would prevent him from doing some form of community service, like serving hungry people at the soup kitchen.

“If you come back in this court on some fraud like this, I’m not going to suspend the time,” warned Judge Williamson. “I’m going along with this because it’s the recommendation of the Attorney General’s office, although it probably would not be my recommendation.”

The judge also followed the recommendation of District Attorney Tony Buckley in another case, and this time the recommendation was more severe. Buckley recommended 12 years of prison time – with four years suspended upon successful completion of the post release supervision requirements – for Tiffany Marie Anderson for her role in the burglary of a home in west Jones County in July and August of 2018. Anderson and an accomplice burglarized the same house twice. The second burglary, on August 7, 2018, was caught on camera. Anderson must also pay $3,167.50 in court costs and restitution. Anderson faced up to 25 years in prison on each of the two burglary charges, if she had decided to pursue a verdict before a jury. A third count of conspiracy was dropped against the defendant.

Judge Williamson told Anderson during the sentencing phase of her hearing that she had stolen from an elderly lady who had worked hard for everything she had and that Anderson would pay this money (restitution) to the victim “if I’m sitting here (as judge) when you get out.”

Shannon Rachel LeBlanc was ordered to pay $1,917.50 in fines and court costs and received 31 months of probation after she pleaded guilty to possession of 1.6 grams of heroin. The charge stemmed from a traffic stop by the Laurel Police Department at the intersection of I-59 and Chantilly Street back on January 28, 2017.

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