Bruce Edward Bayless

Bruce Edward Bayless

A five-time felon who faked a fall at Walmart pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and got a fine and a suspended sentence in a case that was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office in Jones County Circuit Court.

Bruce Edward Bayless, 69, of Laurel admitted to “orchestrating the fall” in August 2017 and “claiming it was an accident,” said prosecutor Steven Waldrup of the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau. The state agency’s records showed Bayless had only one felony conviction — for grand larceny in Jones County in 2011 — but local records showed he has five.

The sentence that was recommended by the AG’s office orders Bayless to serve three years of post-release supervision under the Mississippi Department of Corrections and pay court fees of $417.50 and pay $500 to the AG’s office for investigative fees and $500 to the agency’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund. A $1,000 fine was waived. Bayless served a total of seven days in the Jones County Adult Detention Center on the charge. He was indicted by a Jones County grand jury last June.

Judge Dal Williamson asked Bayless why he should go along with the recommended sentence instead of sending him to prison.

“I pray that you don’t,” Bayless said. “I have a 90-year-old mother to take care of, and I have to get shoulder surgery next week …”

Williamson asked how he can know that Bayless won’t go to another business and fake a fall.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that no more,” Bayless said.

Williamson warned him that if he did come back to court for fraud, he would not get a suspended sentence. “You’re going to do time,” he said.

If he violates the terms of his release, Bayless will be ordered to serve time in prison and pay the $1,000 fine. If he doesn’t pay the fees he owes, Williamson warned him that he will be sent to an MDOC Restitution Center to work until the money is paid.

Bayless’ attorney Michael Mitchell asked that his client not have to participate in the court’s community service program because of his medical conditions.

In addition to shoulder-replacement surgery next week, Bayless said he has a problem with a toe, high blood pressure, arthritis, bursitis, only one kidney …

“I haven’t heard anything that would prevent you from serving food to hungry people at the soup kitchen,” Williamson said as he ordered Bayless to work in the program.

“You have five convictions for grand larceny,” the judge said. “I’m not sure why you weren’t sentenced as a habitual offender. I’m going to go along with the Attorney General’s recommendation, but it wouldn’t have been my recommendation.”

Waldrup told the court, “My records only show one felony,” looking at a report from the National Crime Information Center. “He is getting a second chance. I was not aware of the other felonies.”

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