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Man sentenced in Jefferson County jewelry theft, pawn case

Prosecutors say Bishop was working inside the victim's home in November 2016 when he helped himself to a lockbox in the victim's bedroom.

A man convicted last week of stealing jewelry from a widow's home in Cross Creek Township was sentenced to nearly a decade in prison Wednesday.

James Bishop faced the victim in court as she explained she can finally move on from the ordeal. Prosecutors say Bishop was working inside the victim's home in November 2016 when he helped himself to a lockbox in the victim's bedroom.

He cracked it open, stole the jewelry, pawned it, and didn't come back to work. But it wasn't just this incident that is leading Bishop to prison. He has a lengthy criminal record.

"He has 45 traffic offenses, to say the least, 2016 criminal trespass, possession of drug abuse instruments in 2014; attempted drug abuse instruments in 2014; aggravated vehicular assault and failure to comply -- both felonies of the 4th degree,” Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Edward Littlejohn Jr., said. “In 2013, endangering children in 2012 a misdemeanor; misdemeanor theft in 2011."

What Littlejohn was saying is Bishop is no stranger to law enforcement and could remain a danger to society if not sent to prison.

For victim Margaret Skidmore, the trauma changed her.

"I trusted people,” she said. “I was a very giving person. He's changed all that."

Dealing with the loss of her husband around the time Bishop burglarized her home, the incident has compounded her anxiety and led to a slew of medical prescriptions to maintain her mental health.

"He's not only cost me all of my jewelry, he's cost me so much money in going to a psychiatrist and getting these prescriptions filled every month for an entire year," she said.

Judge Joe Bruzzese deemed Bishop showed no genuine remorse, even as he maintained his innocence and said the investigating officer fabricated evidence.

"I never got to bring out any of my evidence to prove my innocence," he said.

Skidmore said she was shocked at Bishop's audacity, particularly when she discovered he stole a personal item in peculiar fashion.

"Did he think he was going to become a man of faith by stealing my cross and leaving the chain?" she asked.

Bruzzese ultimately sentenced bishop to 9 1/2 years in prison. The officer whom Bishop accused of fabricating evidence?

The victim said Cross Creek Police Officer Jack Henderson helped her get through the ordeal.

"He was vigilant, he was persistent, and he was not going to let this go," she said.

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