22 May 2007

Committee action, May 22: HB 113

HB 113 would make it easier to prosecute organized theft rings. These gangs steal small-valued items that then resell them, often out of the country. The problem is separately the items are petty which makes prosecuting difficult, but together they add up to significant losses to retailers and consumers. This would be different from shoplifting because the “fencing” would be the object of the law. This would be felony.

Rep. Warren Triche wondered why 180 days would be the standard for the time period to add up the separate crimes, and then try to fence. Author Rep. Mike Powell said that was an outside limit, to gather evidence. Authorities could move immediately if they desired. Other amendments were offered to clarify language further, and added without objection.

Rep. Damon Baldone wondered why an amount under $500 would be a felony, which is uncommon in state law. Caddo Asst. Dist. Atty. Hugo Holland explained otherwise the thieves only could be charged with shoplifting, so the dollar limit should not apply. Still, to speed things along, an amendment was made to raise the aggregate to $500. Holland reminded them the felony provision, for both thief and fence could also kick in at any amount if there was a knowing attempt to resell. But Baldone wanted it only to be a felony at $500 or above. Thus, the amendment was reconsidered and undone.

Baldone was concerned that an occasional petty offender would get a felony. Holland said judicial system would have discretion in dealing with these offenders and would not have to charge such a person with this law. The bill was reported favorably without objection.

You have your own personal DA?
I mean, Caddo’s assistant district attorney – he’s Paul Carmouche’s.
Triche to Powell, after Powell introduced Holland in a way implying he was working for Powell.

WEDNESDAY: SB 98 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee; SB 22, SB 295, and SB 320 are scheduled to be heard by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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