A robbery of a security guard at a tribal gaming property has led to a 16-year sentence for a Mississippi man. The crime is also tied to the shooting of a local police officer, which is a separate case.
William Christopher Belk, 33, of Quitman was given the sentence on Friday, according to Acting US Attorney Darren J. LaMarca of the Southern District of Mississippi.
The incident took place on July 9, 2020 when Belk allegedly displayed a handgun at the Bok Homa Casino, located on the Choctaw Indian Reservation.
Belk allegedly aimed the firearm at the security officer. He then allegedly stole items from the officer.
After fleeing, Belk allegedly stole a vehicle from the casino.
Allegedly Shoots Police Officer
A short time later, a Sandersville police officer saw the vehicle and tried to arrest Belk at a gas station.
Belk allegedly shot the officer, identified as Miguel Grimaldo, in the arm and face, according to WDAM, a local TV station. The officer was injured.
Belk then fled in the vehicle. Later, Laurel police officers saw the vehicle. Cops chased the car until the pursuit ended near a local Walmart and Belk was apprehended. He was charged with assault on a police officer.
That charge is believed to be still pending in Mississippi state court.
Grimaldo was treated at a local hospital. He was working part-time as an officer for the Sandersville Police Department when he was shot, WDAM said. He worked full-time as a deputy for the Jones County Sheriff’s office.
As far as the robbery charge, last August a federal grand jury indicted Belk. He was charged with robbery, use of a firearm during a crime of violence, and theft from an Indian gaming establishment.
In February, Belk pleaded guilty to the robbery and the use of a firearm during a crime of violence charges.
Prior Mississippi Casino Crime
In March, in an unrelated incident, a 31-year-old former employee of Mississippi’s Pearl River Resort Silver Star Casino was sentenced to prison for three years followed by supervised release for allegedly stealing cash from the gaming property.
Darren Nickey allegedly stole over $18,000 from the casino. Nickey agreed to the sentence after getting charged with theft by an employee of a gaming establishment on Indian lands. Nickey must also pay $18,340 in restitution under the sentencing agreement.
LaMarca explained in a statement that Nickey was initially found to have embezzled over $1,000 on each of three occurrences in 2016 from cash recyclers in the casino.
Nickey worked as a cashier in a store at the casino complex. He had access to a cash recycler in order to stock his cash register with currency. Nickey allegedly used log-in passwords from coworkers to hide the cash thefts.
Officials conducted an additional investigation and found that Nickey allegedly stole a total of $18,340. There were over 40 withdrawals.
Nickey was indicted on Dec. 12, 2018. He pled guilty on Feb. 19, 2019.
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