A defense attorney who lives in Corning is well known as a coach for Lions Football and Little League Baseball – but not so much as a criminal sentenced to serve time in jail for reportedly bribing a witness.
However, such is the case.
Roland Lawrence Bennett has been sentenced by Tehama County Superior Court Judge Matthew McGlynn to serve three years and eight months in prison after Bennett pleaded guilty to two felony charges of dissuading a witness from testifying – charges designated serious felony strikes under state law.
However, the judge suspended the prison sentence pending Bennett’s completion of five years formal probation and 300 days in the county jail.
McGlynn also ordered Bennett submit to random drug testing, complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, and other standard terms.
Bennett, 50, was arrested by the Tehama County District Attorney’s office on Nov. 18, 2017, on Marguerite Avenue in Corning and booked into the Tehama County Jail on suspicion of bribing a witness. Bennett was released from jail after posting his $50,000 bail.
During a phone interview with Bennett not long after his arrest, he told the Corning Observer he didn’t believe the case would even make it to court as the district attorney’s office was “exaggerating things.”
“The case in question is a criminal case I was handling for a client,” Bennett said at that time. “As is procedure, I did interview the alleged victim in this case, but there was no bribery.”
According to the district attorney’s office, Bennett was representing a client facing several felony charges, including assault causing great bodily injury. Over a period of about 14 months, from Sept. 2016 to Nov. 18, 2017, Bennett made several contacts with the victim in the case during which he allegedly negotiated an agreement that his client pay the victim a specified amount of money in exchange for the victim not cooperating with the district attorney’s office and refusing to testify in response to a lawfully served criminal subpoena.
Bennett was allegedly on probation with Butte County at that time for driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
The name of the person Bennett was representing in the case, and the amount of money allegedly offered to the victim, has not been disclosed by Bennett or the DA’s office.
Bennett is now behind bars serving his 300 day sentence at the Tehama County Jail.
A Corning High School graduate, Bennett started his law practice in January 2003, having attended California State University, Chico, and St. Thomas University of Law in Miami, Fla.