Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Man Convicted in Attempted Walmart Robbery Gets Prison
A man found guilty of conspiring to rob the North Burley Walmart will serve two to eight years in prison for the crime.
Mitchell James Bias was sentenced to eight years in prison with two years fixed Monday in Minidoka County 5th District Court for his role in the November 2011 Walmart robbery.
“I’m kind of baffled at this whole thing,” said Bias. “As God as my witness I had nothing to do with this crime.”
Bias was found guilty by a jury in January of conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary in connection with the November 2011 robbery attempt. He was one of three people charged in the case; Tommy Dean Nash and Robert Joseph Lambert both reached plea deals with prosecutors.
Bias said he has spent two decades “giving back for mistakes” he’d made and blamed an affair he allegedly had with the wife of a co-conspirator as the reason he was implicated in the crime.
Bias said the affair gave the man more than a few reasons “to hate me.”
During the sentencing hearing, Minidoka County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson said each of the three played a role during the crime:Lambert was the worker, Nash the tag-along and Bias was the “brains” of the operation.
According to court records, Lambert went into the store while the other two were supposed to help block interference and drive the getaway car.
Lambert forcefully took a cash cart from an employee. Before he could make it out the door, he was tackled by shoppers and held until authorities arrived. Lambert reportedly stabbed one of the shoppers and nearly knocked a baby from a shopping cart in his attempt to flee.
Stevenson said he believed Bias had been involved in plotting the robbery for years and he recruited the other two to help him carry out the “dirty work.”
Stevenson said Bias still refuses to take responsibility for his role in the robbery.
“This placed everyone in the store in harm’s way,” Stevenson said.
Bias’s attorney, McCord Larsen, said Bias plans to appeal the conviction and maintains his innocence.
Larsen said Bias helped family members and others in the community. If Bias were a true mastermind he would have planned the robbery during Black Friday “when the real money would be there” instead of a few days prior, Larsen said.
Fifth District Judge Michael Crabtree said he fashioned the sentence based on the lesser part of the crime, which was burglary rather than robbery.
Crabtree said it is difficult to assess who may have been the “brains” of the crime.
“It was very upsetting to the community,” the judge said.
Lambert was given a 10-year suspended prison sentence in January and was placed in the state’s retained-jurisdiction program. Nash was sentenced, also in January, to two to eight years in prison.
Source: Times-News “Man Convicted in Attempted Walmart Robbery Gets Prison,” March 12, 2013.