“She had partially scanned some of the items, but there were a number of items she hadn’t paid for,” St. Petersburg Police Department spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said. “She was charged with shoplifting and retail theft, which is a misdemeanor.”
Bellamy was never arrested, but did receive a notice to appear in court, which she failed to do, police said.
Fast forward 17 months to Saturday, when Bellamy found herself standing in front of a judge during Operation Safe Surrender, an annual partnership between police and courts that allows people with outstanding nonviolent misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in without being arrested, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Most warrants are the result of traffic violations, missed court dates and code violations, officials said.
“We’re trying to make the system work here, so if they show up things are going to go better than if we had to go out and arrest them,” Pinellas County Judge Henry J. “Hank” Andringa told CBS affiliate WTSP “I think it works to their benefit.”
After pleading guilty, Bellamy was asked by a judge about her plans, leading to an exchange that left Andringa temporarily speechless, according to video shot by WTSP.
“Do you work?” Andringa asked.
“I’m looking for [work], I have an interview,” Bellamy replied. “I’m waiting for Walmart to call me back at Pinellas Park. I have an interview with them.”
For six seconds, the stupefied judge said nothing while his jaw dropped and his eyes nervously scanned the courtroom like a man caught in the Twilight Zone.
Andringa is a veteran judge who “is known for sometimes adding levity” to court proceedings, according to the Clearwater Bar Association.
This was not one of those times.
“I’m on ‘Candid Camera,’ aren’t I?” Andringa finally replied.
“How do you think it’s gonna go when the background shows that you tried to take a cart full of stuff from — well — Walmart?” he continued.
“A lot of times, that’d be a disqualifier,” Andringa said. “What do I know? There, I’m over it.”
Reached by phone, a Walmart spokesman declined to comment on the theft or Bellamy’s pending job application.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said they considered Operation Safe Surrender a success. The court collected $1,113 in fees and fines, and 38 misdemeanor warrants were processed and purged from the system, including Bellamy’s, officials said.
No arrests were made during the event.