Man sentenced for historic gold heist

YREKA, Calif. — One of two men accused of breaking into the Siskiyou County Courthouse and stealing $1.26 million worth of historic gold nuggets, jewelry and other artifacts in 2012 will spend five years in prison.

Scott Wayne Bailey, 51, of San Pablo, Calif., was found guilty Thursday in Siskiyou County of second-degree burglary in excess of $200,000.

"We didn't offer him any plea bargains. He pleaded guilty as charged," Siskiyou County District Attorney J. Kirk Andrus said.

Another year could have been added to Bailey's sentence if the theft had exceeded $1.3 million, Andrus added.

Authorities say Bailey broke into the courthouse in January 2012 and stole the property from a display case. David Dean Johnson, 49, of El Sobrante, Calif., allegedly joined him. Johnson's case is set to go to court on Nov. 19, Andrus said.

Security footage shows two men breaking in through a rear window of the building in the early-morning hours of Jan. 31, 2012. A faulty alarm did not alert police to the crime in progress.

An investigation showed the men purchased various high-value items with proceeds from the heist, including new vehicles. Johnson turned himself in to police in April. Police arrested Bailey in August.

Andrus said Bailey did not disclose what he and Johnson did with the pilfered gold.

"He gave no information in court. I mean nothing," Andrus said. "I pointed out in very forceful terms that shows a complete lack of remorse."

Officials said that Bailey asked for probation at the hearing, as he had no prior convictions. The request was denied.

"This moved him right to the head of the class here," Andrus said. "There's just nothing like this. I mean, stealing gold from a public courthouse."

Andrus said the outcome of the court case was not satisfying, as the historic artifacts have not been recovered, robbing the city of a piece of its identity.

"He broke into our halls of justice and stole a big piece of our legacy, a significant representation of our culture," Andrus said. "Did we do our jobs? Yeah, but that doesn't mean there's really anything satisfying."

— Ryan Pfeil

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