Rachel Scantlin (left) and Ashley Bales.
Two Gillette next-door neighbors are accused of shoplifting and endangering children.
Ashley Bales, 33, and Rachel Scantlin, 34, appeared simultaneously in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court via video telecast for arraignment on Wednesday. Bales is charged with felony shoplifting and five counts of child endangerment. Scantlin faces charges for felony shoplifting and one count of child endangerment.
The investigation began when Bales’ ex-husband, Braxton, was arrested on Oct. 15 for violating a protection an order, and subsequently reported that his 12-year-old was concerned that his mother had been shoplifting at Walmart, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Officers then contacted Walmart’s loss prevention office, where a prevention officer located video footage that allegedly identified Bales shoplifting in 22 separate incidents between Sept. 1 to Nov. 11. Bales reportedly used an EBT card to purchase some items and pretended to scan others at the self-checkout registers, stealing a combined amount of nearly $3,805 worth of merchandise.
The video footage also showed a few occasions in which Bales and her husband allegedly shoplifted with their children present.
“I’ll do all that I can to make it right,” Bales told Judge Wendy Bartlett at the preliminary hearing. “I need to be there for my children more than anything.”
Bales was interviewed by GPD on Dec. 3, along with Braxton, and Bales’ next-door neighbor Scantlin.
All three reportedly admitted to shoplifting repeatedly because money was tight, the affidavit states, and also admitted that their kids knew what was taking place, and at times, assisted the adults in the process. The three agreed that it set a poor example, according to court documents.
In a second affidavit of probable cause, Scantlin is also accused of allegedly shoplifting by not properly scanning items at the self-checkout register. Walmart provided video footage that identified Scantlin in 14 separate shoplifting incidents between Oct. 12 and Nov. 17. Her two young children, along with one of Bales’ older children, accompanied Scantlin on several occasions during which one of the older children also participated, according to the affidavit.
Court documents state that Scantlin said the children had learned to shoplift from Bales, so Scantlin didn’t see the difference in Bales’ children helping her as well but thought that her own children weren’t old enough to know what she was doing.
Bales’ bond was set at $2,500, while Scantlin’s was set at $2,000.
Bond terms for both of the accused stated that the two may not be in or around Walmart, may not be in contact with one another, and may not discuss the details of the case with Braxton or any of the children involved.
Felony shoplifting is punishable by imprisonment of no more than 10 years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. Child endangerment is a misdemeanor offense punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.
Bales and Scantlin are set to appear in Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing at 4 p.m. on Dec. 18.