A judge has sentenced a 59-year-old Tracy man to four years and eight months in prison for stealing a pickup from Southern California and driving it to Modesto. He failed to appear in court in Stanislaus County and was found later in a Nevada prison serving time for another vehicle theft conviction.
Michael Earnest Bills last week pleaded no contest to vehicle theft, failing to appear in court and felony driving under the influence. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff sentenced Bills for his latest conviction.
Prosecutors said Bills stole the Ford F150 pickup from a home in El Cajon in San Diego County on May 21, 2015. The following day, a Modesto police officer pulled over Bills in downtown Modesto.
The officer smelled alcohol, and Bills admitted he had been drinking alcohol, according to prosecutors. Bills’ blood alcohol content was 0.21 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit.
Bills was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail, but he was later released on bail. He failed to appear in court for a hearing on June 25, 2015. He was eventually found in the Nevada prison.
Bills pleaded no contest to the Stanislaus County charges on April 27. He also admitted having prior convictions for felony DUI in 2008 and felony negligent discharge of a gun. The gun charge is considered a “strike” under the state’s Three Strikes law.
On Tuesday afternoon, Bills was being held at the Stanislaus County Jail waiting to be transferred to serve his sentence in a California prison this time.
Deputy District Attorney Bianca Yip prosecuted the case against Bills. Her job with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office is funded by grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety.