Let’s see if the court system can figure out a way to do it right this time.
Back in 2011, the Osceola County, Florida courts figured that Jason Bentley would do the right thing and show up at his sentencing hearing.
Earlier that year, he’d pleaded guilty to drug trafficking. Instead of taking him into custody at that time, Florida authorities apparently felt it would be a good idea to let him walk around free while awaiting sentencing.
About a month after posting bond, Bentley got himself arrested and charged with possession of cannabis. Still convinced that Bentley would be a model citizen after that event, he walked free again.
And, of course, when his sentencing hearing came around two months later, Bentley was a no show.
While on the run from Florida authorities, it didn’t take him too awfully long to get into trouble again, this time in Tennessee. In 2012, Bentley was arrested in Dyersburg, Tennessee, not too far from where Bentley apparently has family, across the border in Arkansas.
Charged with criminal impersonation (he by that time was going by the name Jason Erickson, according to police), Bentley was held in a Tennessee jail for a few months, but there never appears to have been an attempt by Florida authorities to go collect their fugitive. In early 2013, Bentley posted bond in Tennessee and headed north to Chicago.
In April 2014, he was driving a car on Southview Avenue in Brookfield and allegedly blew a stop sign. Pulled over by a Brookfield police officer, Bentley got jumpy — he knew he was wanted in Florida — and sped away from the officer.
He reportedly raced north down Arthur Avenue until it dead ends at Lincoln Avenue, when he decided it would be a swell idea to cut through the Gross Middle School parking lot, which at that time was playing host to a track meet and was populated with scores of kids and adults. As he drove around the parking lot looking for an exit, people dove for cover.
Eventually, he found an opening in the gate and got away. He headed back to the old homestead in northeast Arkansas (reportedly with a woman who back in April told police she didn’t know him) and camped out in a hotel.
Funny thing, though, about technology. The FBI’s Fugitive Task Force was able to trace a couple calls from a cellphone — one reportedly to a local pizza place. It took about a month, but last week Bentley was apprehended by the FBI.
Today he’ll show up in Brookfield to answer for the high-speed chase.
And maybe then, someday, Florida may just ask for their convicted felon back so they can sentence him and put him in jail, where he won’t be able to — allegedly — drive through anymore children’s sporting events.