The Upshur County District Attorney’s Office got a conviction in a Hindering-a-Secured-Creditor case Nov. 6, and received Nov. 12 notification that a life sentence to a drug dealer meted out in 115th District Court in Gilmer has been upheld on appeal.
In the Secured-Creditor case, Gary Hammonds, 59, of Mt. Pleasant, was tried Nov. 6 before Judge Lauren Parish, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000.
In the drug conviction appeal, the life sentence given to Kirk Bolton, of Gilmer, was upheld by the 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana.
The Hammonds case was investigated by Jon Warren, investigator for the Upshur County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of First National Bank of Gilmer.
“Gary Hammonds came to the bank in 2007 and received, over the course of the year, three separate loans for cattle. In total, these loans were for over $415,000, not including interest incurred,” District Attorney Billy Byrd, who prosecuted the case, said.
In Hindering a Secured Creditor, someone pledges as collateral for a loan property he does not own, or sells it without permission or knowledge of the lender without repaying the lender.
Byrd said that the cattle were inspected for the bank several times.
“Ultimately, it was learned that the bank’s cattle were sold and no monies were paid back to the bank,” Byrd said.
Byrd said that Hammonds admitted under cross examination that he had sold the bank’s cows and used the money to pay other loans at other banks. He admitted he had lied to First National Bank officials when showing them cattle during inspections over a period of several years. The cattle had never belonged to him, he admitted.
In addition to the 20-year sentence, Hammonds was fined $10,000.
Defense attorney was Sam Russel, former Titus County judge.
Kelly Stretcher, president and CEO of First National Bank of Gilmer, testified for the bank.
“Our local banks are very important to our community,” Byrd said after the verdict. “I hope that individuals who might choose to steal or commit fraud on them look at this sentence and think twice before making such choices.”
In the Bolton case, Bolton, now 30, had claimed multiple points of error during the jury trial in late 2011 that had led to his conviction.
“He was found guilty of delivery of cocaine, less than one gram, in a school zone of a daycare,” said Byrd, who tried the case before Judge Parish in 115th District Court.
During the punishment phase, the State proved that Bolton was a habitual offender, raising his maximum punishment to 25 years to life. The jury assessed the life sentence.
Among the errors Bolton claimed in his appeal were: 1. There is insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of the State’s confidential informant; 2. the evidence is legally generally insufficient to support the jury’s guilty verdict; 3. There is insufficient evidence because the indictment was never properly amended to allege delivery of cocaine, rather than methamphetamine, as was originally alleged; 4. the trial court erred by allowing an alternate juror to be present with the 12 jurors during deliberations; and 5. the trial court erred by limiting Bolton’s cross-examination of the confidential informant.
The 6th Court of Appeals found no error occurred and the life sentence should be affirmed.
Assistant District Attorney Natalie Miller wrote the brief in support of the verdict and the sentence.
“This is one of many (Upshur County) cases this year affirmed by the higher courts,” Byrd said, “finding no error and affirming the actions of Judge Parish during the trials.”