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February 1, 2013

Cullman man convicted on property charges sentenced

The owner of a local flea market and farm equipment business has been sentenced to prison time and monetary fines for a six-count conviction on receiving stolen property, handed down by a Cullman County jury late last year.

Presiding Cullman County circuit judge Greg Nicholas imposed six separate prison terms and six separate fines for Lionel Bates this week.

Bates, 54, was convicted in early December on three counts of first-degree receiving stolen property, a Class B felony; and three counts of second-degree receiving stolen property, a Class C felony.

The prison sentences on the three Class B charges are for five years; those on the Class C charges are for three. Bates will serve his prison time concurrently, which means he will not serve more than five years.

He was also ordered to pay a total of $22,250 in fines — $5,000 for each Class B conviction and $2,500 for each class C conviction.

Bates owns the Cullman Flea Market, located at the northwest corner of Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 278. He also owns Bates Farm Equipment, which lies on property adjacent to the flea market.

Last month, a jury found that Bates had knowingly taken in or concealed numerous stolen utility trailers housed on the lot of Bates Farm Equipment. The trial ended a lengthy investigation into allegations the business had housed as many as 90 trailers that had been reported stolen.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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