REDWOOD CITY -- A truck driver who swapped $10,000 worth of fish he was supposed to deliver for $400 in crack cocaine was sentenced Thursday to drug treatment and probation, a prosecutor said.
In an emotional hearing Byron Duane Bates, 44, of South San Francisco admitted he's a drug addict and asked San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak for one more chance, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Bates has two burglary convictions from the 1990s and was on probation for drug and burglary charges when arrested for the October 14, 2011 fish theft.
"The judge, rightly so, opted to give him that chance," said Wagstaffe. "We think it was a fair outcome."
Bates, who pleaded no contest to felony vehicle theft May 29, must stay out of trouble or face three years in prison, according to the terms of his plea bargain. He must also complete four years probation and a year in the Delancey Street drug treatment program, Wagstaffe said.
Bates had set out around 6:30 a.m. the day of the crime loaded with fish that was supposed to be delivered to the Sacramento area. But by 9:30 a.m. customers were calling to complain they still hadn't gotten their seafood. Later that day Bates' boss called police to report the truck stolen.
Authorities later learned Bates had swapped 90 percent of the fish for crack in Oakland and San Francisco. He abandoned the truck in Oakland, leaving the rest of the load to rot, prosecutors said.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.