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Couple receives probation in connection with false report

May 03, 2001

Couple receives probation in connection with false report



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County husband and wife who concocted a false story to cover up the man's role in a car accident were sentenced to probation Wednesday.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Walker sentenced John W. Bell, 31, of 6620 Lincoln Way West, St. Thomas, Pa., to 18 months probation, a $500 fine and 50 hours of community service.

Walker sentenced Janice L. Bell, 28, of the same address, to one year probation and a $500 fine.

Both pleaded guilty to unsworn falsification.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, John Bell was on his way home from Ziggy's, a bar, when the car he was driving struck a telephone pole in the borough on Jan. 26. He ran from the accident and returned to the bar, where he called his wife and asked her to report the car stolen.

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Janice Bell then told Pennsylvania State Police she heard tires squealing and saw her 1999 Ford Escort driven away from her home at 9:20 p.m.

However, police had discovered the vehicle a half-hour earlier than the time it was allegedly stolen, and they questioned the Bells on the story, according to the affidavit.

On Jan. 28, John Bell admitted he made a false statement when he said he had not driven his wife's car since Dec. 1. Two days later, Janice Bell admitted her report also was false.

John Bell told Walker he lied because he had been drinking before the accident and was concerned because he had been convicted of driving under the influence in 1994.

- Stacey Danzuso

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