A Florida man arrested in September for allegedly conspiring to commit financial identity fraud will not face prosecution on that charge — yet he will likely remain in custody at the Bartow County Sheriff's Office detention center until at least the end of the month.
Although Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Andrew Garland said the conspiracy charge was dismissed at a preliminary hearing, Arthur Orlando Parris is still facing charges of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Parris, of Tampa, has been held at the Bartow County Jail since Sept. 15. He has yet to be indicted by a grand jury on any charges.
Parris, along with Alonia Shemeka Perkins and Juan Ramon Winter, was arrested by Cartersville Police Department Criminal Investigations Division detectives, who conducted an undercover operation at The Home Depot at 100 Gentilly Blvd.
"He was in a car with other people who would go into various stores and shoplift," defense attorney Arnold Ragas said at a bond reduction hearing in Bartow Superior Court Tuesday. "He was never inside the store."
According to Bartow County Sheriff's Office records, Perkins, also of Tampa, was released from custody Oct. 5 on a $23,500 property bond. Winter, whom the BCSO lists as homeless, remains in pretrial detention.
Per BCSO records, both Winter and Perkins are each facing five counts of financial transaction card fraud, two counts of identity theft fraud, one count of forgery, and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony, in addition to misdemeanor charges for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Winter is also facing one count of possessing or displaying false identification with a government logo or seal for a criminal act — another felony offense.
Ragas requested Parris receive an "own recognizance" (OR) bond — a motion that would allow the defendant to be released from pretrial detention, without paying any money, as long as he signs a document agreeing to return to court for any future hearings.
"He has a $1,000 bond, and that was done, what, two months ago at a preliminary hearing," Ragas said. "He can't make $1,000, however low that is … that bond is not reasonable, and I would request that he be given an OR bond."
Cherokee Judicial Circuit Court Judge D. Scott Smith, however, told Ragas he wasn't "very keen" on authorizing such bonds.
"The whole idea is to try to do something to get them to come back, and I don't know anything about his history, where he's from, who his family is," he said. "You have to tell me these things in order to make that decision."
Nor did Judge Smith say he believed the roughly two months Parris has been in custody is excessive or unusual considering the charges.
"Possession of marijuana, less than an ounce, is still a misdemeanor that carries up to 12 months, so he's not necessarily in for longer than he could be if he was convicted," he said. "To be honest with you, I'd give him a time-service on this case if he was here. It's neither here nor there, it's not that big a deal, but he's been in custody 90 days almost, right? It doesn't sound like it's the crime of the century."
Ragas said he didn't know too many specifics about Parris, although he said the defendant may be homeless. He did, however, say that he was looking to bring Parris in for a plea deal.
With that in mind, Smith denied the bond reduction motion and requested that Parris be placed on the court calendar for "at least the 27th, and we'll get that worked out some way."