Two sentenced in courthouse cocaine conspiracy
BATON ROUGE - A judge sentenced two people Tuesday who admitted to their parts in a conspiracy to steal and sell cocaine taken as evidence and stored in the East Baton Rouge Parish courthouse.
Judge Jules Edwards sentenced Terrance Ramirez and Colt Bell for their guilty pleas to charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy to commit extortion. Bell received 12-year and 7-and-a-half year sentences, while Ramirez received 9-year and 7-and-a-half year sentences. Both sets of sentences will run concurrently.
Six people in all were indicted in connection with a plot which investigators said involved Colt's mother, Debra Bell, and her boyfriend William Colvin. Debra Bell and Colvin worked at the parish courthouse, and Colvin is the son of retired district judge Kay Bates.
Investigators accused Bell and Colvin of stealing cocaine and weapons involved in murder cases from a courthouse evidence locker in 2012. Detectives said the pair stored the stolen drugs at Bell's home, and that she gave some to her son and Ramirez to sell. Colvin also spent more than $50,000 of the money from the sales on jewelry for Bell, according to arrest documents.
After their arrests investigators said both Colvin and Bell confessed to the crimes, and Bell said her son was extorting Colvin to steal the drugs from the evidence room. Deroy Joseph and Larry Collins were also named in the indictment for cocaine possession charges.
Colt Bell and Ramirez agreed as part of their plea deal to testify in the remaining hearings. Hearings in those case were pushed back to June 2.
Judge Edwards of Opelousas was appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the case after all the other 19th Judicial District justices recused themselves.