Dwight Henry, a New Orleans baker who gained celebrity through his role in the acclaimed 2012 film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was convicted Wednesday of misdemeanor theft for stealing money from his former employer, the Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Cafe on North Dorgenois Street.
Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman found Henry, 53, guilty of theft of less than $750 following a short bench trial. Herman sentenced Henry to a month of inactive probation.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office initially charged Henry a year ago with a single felony but dropped it to a misdemeanor before the trial.
The charge stemmed from an October 2014 incident in which Henry barged into the cafe before daybreak.
Henry apparently had grown upset with the bakery’s management after parting ways with the business and opening his own Wink’s Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Bistro near the French Market. Henry maintained he still held a stake in the other business that apparently was not committed to ink, court documents show.
He previously served as head baker at the Buttermilk Drop Bakery but had not worked there for at least two years at the time of the theft.
After entering the shop, Henry “removed all the contents of the drawer, placed it into his pockets and left the location,” a police report states.
Henry’s supporters called the incident a misunderstanding. The falling out has spawned litigation in Civil District Court, and that’s where Henry’s backers said it belonged.
Henry had no previous acting experience when he landed the lead role as Wink in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a film that earned four Academy Award nominations. He played a smaller part in the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave.”
Court records show an arrest record for Henry dating back to 1988.
Prosecutors said in 2014 that they were re-examining a 2006 homicide in which Henry was arrested — though not charged — in the fatal stabbing of Leroy Paige. Witnesses implicated Henry in the stabbing, but former District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s office apparently refused the case because of credibility issues with a key witness.
Henry claimed self-defense, and police reports showed witnesses offered conflicting accounts of whether Henry instigated the dispute with Paige.
In August, a spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office said prosecutors had decided not to prosecute Henry in the stabbing.