Former clerk pleads guilty in evidence room thefts
BATON ROUGE - A former clerk of court accused of helping steal cocaine and weapons from an evidence locker at the Baton Rouge courthouse pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of cocaine possession and principal to malfeasance in office.
Debra Bell admitted in court she took the drugs from the 19th Judicial District Courthouse with the help of William Colvin, another former clerk who was in a relationship with her. Bell's attorney said she didn't know at the time she was taking cocaine from the courthouse.
Bell and Colvin, the son of former District Judge Kay Bates, were arrested in December 2012 and later indicted for stealing 48.5 pounds of cocaine as well as several handguns and shotguns which were evidence in murder cases. Four other people were indicted in connection with the scheme, including Bell's son whom she claimed was extorting her in order to sell the cocaine she stole. Colt Weston Bell was sentenced to 12 years in prison and Terrance Sloan Ramirez received a nine-year sentence after both pleaded guilty in February to extortion and drug charges.
As part of her plea deal Bell will be sentenced on Aug. 10 to a five-year suspended prison term and seven years of supervised probation. Prosecutors said they've also extended a plea offer to Colvin, who will go to trial on Nov. 2.
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