One of the men charged with stealing more than $1 million in historic gold from the county courthouse last year was sentenced Thursday to five years in jail.
Scott Wayne Bailey, 51, of El Sobrante pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree burglary with an enhancement for a loss exceeding $200,000.
But the gold is still missing.
“This case is singularly unsatisfying because we couldn’t make the citizens of Siskiyou County whole,” said District Attorney Kirk Andrus. “We did everything that we could on the case, but that did not include recovering the gold and bringing it back home where it belongs.”
Superior Court Judge Laura Masunaga sentenced Bailey to the maximum punishment he could receive, pointing out the irony that the county Bailey victimized would now have to house him and treat him well.
Under Governor Jerry Brown’s AB-109 realignment plan, Bailey’s offense did not qualify him for a state prison commitment.
At the hearing, Andrus said it came out that Bailey refused to say anything about where the gold was, or is, to his probation officer. He referred to Bailey as “defiant” and “uncooperative.”
“There is no downside, legally, to (Bailey) telling us where (the gold) is,” said Andrus the day after the sentencing. “He couldn’t incriminate himself any more. But he could mitigate his punishment if he cooperated. His reason to remain silent is pure selfishness.”
Defense attorney John Lawrence requested his client be sentenced to a lower term. He cited Bailey’s lack of prior probation, the crime’s lack of sophistication, Bailey’s admittance to wrongdoing in the early stages of the case and the unlikelihood of a repeat offense as mitigating factors.
Lawrence asked for probation for his client or a split sentence where Bailey would be released the last two years of his sentence so he can pay restitution.
“We are not interested in any small amount he can repay during those two years, even if he gets a job. We want our gold and we want him in jail,” said Andrus.
Lawrence admitted the crime was unique but added, “That doesn’t mean we should treat this defendant that much different than someone else who committed second-degree burglary.”
“To say the crime he pleaded guilty to is like any other garden-variety commercial burglary is not even logical in my view,” said Masunaga. “He stole what is the historic legacy of this county... and showed no remorse whatsoever.”
Bailey pleaded guilty to being one of at least two masked men who broke into the county courthouse on the night of Jan. 31, 2012. The men appeared on surveillance cameras in the foyer breaking into the heavy case displaying the county’s gold collection.
Bailey and at least one accomplice made off with gold nuggets and other artifacts, a loss subsequent appraisals estimated to be more than $1.2 million.
On Aug. 1, Bailey was apprehended on an outstanding arrest warrant by law enforcement officials in San Pablo. He was booked in Siskiyou County Jail with bail set at $1 million dollars.
DNA recovered from the inside pf a sock worn on the hand of one of the thieves and later found outside the courthouse matches Bailey’s, said Andrus. A sample of the suspect’s DNA was collected after he was taken into custody.
“This DNA profile is estimated to occur, at random among unrelated individuals, in approximately one in 120 quintillion caucasians,” Andrus noted.
Bailey pleaded guilty on Aug. 15.
A restitution hearing has been set for Oct. 8 to determine how much Bailey will have to repay the county.
The trial for Bailey’s suspected accomplice, David Dean Johnson of El Sobrante, is scheduled for Nov. 18. Johnson turned himself in to Siskiyou County authorities on April 1 and has pleaded not guilty.