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Retired Baton Rouge judge’s son admits to taking guns, cocaine from evidence room

The Advocate,
BYLINE: Joe gyan jr.|

East Baton Rouge Parish, LA

Colvin faces at least 15 years in prison

William Colvin

Clad in orange prison clothes with his parents looking on, the son of a former Baton Rouge state judge admitted Monday that he stole cocaine and guns from an evidence vault inside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse while working there in 2012.

William “Billy” Bates Colvin, 33, pleaded guilty to charges of malfeasance in office, possession of cocaine and obstruction of justice. The latter charge involved tampering with evidence.

Retired Judge Marion Edwards will sentence Colvin on Sept. 8. Colvin faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

“This was just the day he had to fess up and pay the piper,” Colvin’s attorney, Frank Holthaus, said outside the courtroom. “All we can do is hope.”

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Darwin Miller said the state is not taking a position on the sentence Colvin should receive for the thefts that occurred between September 2012 and December 2012.

Colvin, who is the son of retired state District Judge Kay Bates, was working in the criminal records division of the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office at the time of the theft of more than 48 pounds of cocaine and five guns from the Clerk of Court evidence vault inside the courthouse.

“We’re glad this part of the case has reached some sort of resolution,” Bates said, thanking those in the community who have shown their support for and prayed for her son.

Colvin’s former girlfriend, Debra Vicknair Bell, 57, of Maurepas, pleaded guilty in June to malfeasance in office and cocaine possession charges and was put on probation Monday for seven years. Bell, who worked in the Clerk of Court’s Office civil records division, received a suspended 5-year prison term.

Colvin and Bell were among six people charged in the case, including Bell’s son, Colt Weston Bell, 31, of Baker, who pleaded guilty in February to drug and extortion-conspiracy charges and was sentenced then to 12 years behind bars.

All six defendants have now pleaded guilty in the case.

Two of them — Deroy Joseph, 42, and Larry Collins, 28, both of Baton Rouge — entered guilty pleas Monday and also will be sentenced Sept. 8. Both men pleaded guilty to possession of between 200 and 400 grams of cocaine — drugs that Colvin stole from the evidence vault and Debra Bell helped remove from the downtown courthouse. Collins also pleaded guilty to a heroin possession charge stemming from an unrelated arrest in October.

The final defendant, Terrance Sloan Ramirez, 31, of Baton Rouge, was sentenced in February to nine years in prison on drug and extortion-conspiracy charges.

Colt Bell and Ramirez admitted plotting to extort Colvin to steal even more cocaine that was locked away in the courthouse.

Colvin and Bell were fired after their December 2012 arrests.

Edwards explained to Colvin that he faces 15 to 30 years in prison on the charge of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine; up to 20 years for obstruction of justice; and up to five years on the malfeasance in office charge.

Holthaus noted that Colvin immediately confessed and began fully cooperating with authorities after his stunning arrest.

Colvin has admitted to distributing the smuggled cocaine for a $200,000 profit, a search warrant affidavit states. He told detectives he spent $20,000 of the money on a vehicle and $30,000 on assorted jewelry, the affidavit says.

Miller, the prosecutor, said Debra Bell also cooperated with the investigation.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said the stolen cocaine and guns had been seized from drug dealers and murderers, but none of the thefts compromised any cases.

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