HELENA-After a two-year journey through the legal system, a former Helena man is sentenced for stealing thousands of dollars in silver coins in 2014.
William James Lawrence was sentenced to 10 years in the Montana State Prison with all but 940 days suspended. Lawrence was then given credit for that time served, which means he’ll return to his home in Chinook.
Lawrence and his brother Steven Dubois were arrested after stealing a box of silver “blanks” from Wayne Miller’s Coin Shop on Last Chance Gulch in 2014 worth $11,000.
Lawrence allegedly distracted a store clerk by asking about some paintings when his brother allegedly grabbed the box of silver and ran out of the store.
Law enforcement officers found half the silver in Lawrence’s home when he was arrested afterward.
Following a two-day jury trial in March of 2015, Lawrence was found guilty of felony theft. He was later given a 10-year prison sentence.
However, his conviction was later overturned by the Montana State Supreme Court. Pending a new trial, Lawrence was released from prison in January.
In July Lawrence entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to one count of felony theft.
Lawrence – who has nearly a dozen lifetime felony convictions starting when he was 18 years old – told Judge Michael McMahon that he’s a changed man who only wants to care for his ailing wife.
A statement backed up by his wife and daughters who told Judge McMahon that Lawrence has changed.
“I’ll never leave her again,” said Lawrence of his wife, who needs to undergo a kidney transplant.
During an emotional statement to the court, Lawrence told Judge McMahon that he found the Lord on the street and worked hard both in prison at the Dairy Farm and then found work when he was released in January.
He ended his statement with, “Praise be to Jesus.”
After handing down his sentence, Judge McMahon told Lawrence, “You wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t changed.”
Lawrence was ordered to pay $5,546.25 in restitution.