By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
A Cullman man arrested on suspicion of theft faces sentencing in January after being convicted earlier this month on six counts of receiving stolen property.
Lionel Bates, 54, of Cullman was convicted in November, following a lengthy investigation into allegations his business, Bates Farm Equipment, housed more than 90 equipment trailers that had been reported stolen.
Cullman deputy district attorney John Bryant prosecuted the trial against Bates, who faced multiple charges of first and second degree receiving stolen property in relation to numerous utility trailers he took in at his business near the 278 Flea Market in Cullman County.
After two full days of testimony about how Bates knowingly possessed the stolen property, the jury reached the guilty verdict on six of the cases. Bates was convicted on three counts of 1st degree receiving stolen property — a Class B felony — and three counts of 2nd degree receiving stolen property — a Class C felony.
Cullman County circuit judge Greg Nicholas presided over the trial, and set Bates’ sentencing hearing for Jan. 28 of next year. The Class B felony charges each could bring from 2 to 20 years in prison; the Class C charges carry a sentencing range of one year and a day up to a maximum of 10 years.
Bates’ eligibility for probation can also be weighed at the hearing. He is currently free on bond.
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.