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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for April 2013

Crimestopper reward offered for head shop thief

Spokane County Sheriff's Office shared surveillance stills of a man suspected of robbing a Spokane Valley head shop. | Photo: Spokane County Sheriff's Office

Spokane County Sheriff's Office needs help identifiying a man suspected of stealing a pack of Captain Kratom Thai powder from a Spokane Valley Puffin Glass store on April 11, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

The suspect asked to see the product, described as an organic pain reliever by an Puffin Glass employee, but he ran out of the store with the tablets around 7:15 p.m. and didn't pay for them, an employee told authorities.

The employee chased the suspect out of the 12023 E. Sprague store, but the suspect pulled out a knife and threatened him. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. To report a tip, call 1 (800) 222-TIPS or go online to www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.

Body found at home of DB Cooper parachute packer

WOODINVILLE, Wash. (AP) — A homicide victim’s body has been found at a Washington state home owned by the man who packed the parachutes used by infamous airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper.

King County sheriff’s detectives responded to the Seattle suburb of Woodinville on Friday night after a woman called to say she had found her father dead. She reported that she had gone to the house to check on him because she hadn’t heard from him in several days.

The victim’s identity has not been released. But Sgt. Cindi West said Saturday that investigators have ruled the case a homicide.

Property records show the house is owned by 74-year-old Earl Cossey.

When DB Cooper hijacked a passenger jet from Portland, Ore., to Seattle in 1971, demanding $200,000 and four parachutes, it was Cossey who packed the chutes.

After asking to be flown to Mexico, Cooper jumped out somewhere near the Oregon line. Some of the cash has been found, but his fate is unknown, and investigators doubt he survived.

Spokesman-Review archives: In 2008, Cossey was quoted as saying: “They keep bringing me garbage. Every time they find squat, they bring it out and open their trunk and say, ‘Is that it?’ and I say, ‘Nope, go away.’ Then a few years later they come back.”

Reports described Cossey as a man from Woodinville, Wash., who packed the parachutes demanded by fabled airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper, after telling authorities that the chute found recently in southwestern Washington was not used in Cooper’s 1971 crime.

Fugitive found hiding in Spokane Valley outhouse

Federal agents caught a fugitive in Spokane Valley after he was found hiding in an outhouse.

Travis W. Beavers, 20, fled authorities and ditched his car near Dishman Mica Road and Appleway Boulevard around 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

Spokane Valley Sheriff’s deputies helped federal agents set up a police perimeter to find the convicted felon. Spokane County Sheriff’s K-9 dog Laslo tracked Beavers to an outhouse several blocks from the abandoned car.

Beavers refused to leave the bathroom because he was scared of Laslo based on his prior history with K-9 units, but Deputy Jeff Thurman released the dog to get him.

Beavers was taken into custody by federal agents after being treated by a local hospital. He’s in custody at Spokane County Jail for federal charges of possessing a firearm, according to recently filed federal court documents. Investigators found a .270 caliber rifle on his person.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators sealed the probable cause for arrest in U.S. District Court because it talking about an ongoing investigation from confidential informants, court documents show. Beavers is expected in court on April 30th at 1:30 p.m.

Beavers was previously convicted of stealing a car and possessing stolen property in 2012, in addition to burglary and possessing drugs.

Pullman police say surveillance video released in error

Previously released footage from Pullman Police Department on Youtube shows the assault suspects leaving the Adams Mall parking lot following last month's assault of a Washington State University instructor.

A video containing excerpts of surveillance camera footage from the night a Washington State University instructor was assaulted was released to The Spokesman-Review by police and published on the news company’s website for several hours on Thursday.

A Pullman Police records clerk mailed a disk containing 30 minutes of footage from five surveillance cameras to staff writer Nicole Hensley in response to a public records request.

Shortly after the video was posted Thursday afternoon, Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins informed the reporter that the video had been released in error, but did not request that it be taken down from spokesman.com. Several hours later, however, Jenkins asked that it be removed from the website because its release “could potentially hamper and impede our active investigation of this case.”

The Spokesman-Review agreed to that request, but reserves the right to re-post the video if formal charges are filed in the case. Three people have been arrested but not charged in connection with the assault.

Editor Gary Graham noted that the video was obtained legally, given to the newspaper by the Pullman Police Department. However, “In the spirit of cooperation with an active police investigation, we have agreed to remove it from our website.”

The video shows a confrontation between the instructor, David Warner, his friend, and the suspects identified by Pullman police. It also also shows emergency responders arriving on scene and a large crowd gathering around Warner’s prone body.

Warner was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane and remained there in critical condition for two weeks. His condition has improved and he’s now at a rehabilitation center in Post Falls.

Warner can be seen stretching his arms out between two feuding parties before he’s tackled to the ground by a group of men around 1:57 a.m. on March 30. He fell to the ground, out of sight behind a parked car near 600 NE Colorado Street.

$500,000 bond for Browne’s Addition shooting suspect

Justin C. Werle appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was given a $500,000 bond. Photo: Nicole Hensley

A missing work glove led to a shooting between a Browne’s Addition apartment tenant and his building’s handyman.

Spokane Police officers arrested Justin C. Werle Tuesday night after they closed off several blocks in the neighborhood and called a SWAT team to find the alleged shooter at the Pacific Terrace Apartments in the 2200 block of West Pacific.

The victim, identified as Zachary Bergstrom in court documents, told authorities a feud began earlier on Tuesday when Werle confronted him about a missing work glove, he told authorities. A shoving match started later that day between the two and Werle pulled out a gun and shot Bergstrom in the neck in the building’s alleyway.

Bergstrom clutched his neck and ran to the manager’s office where 911 was notified of the shooting, court documents show. He was alert and talking when medics took him to the hospital.

A K-9 unit dog tracked an unsuccessful lead to another apartment, officers said, but detectives called Werle’s mother, Donna Werle, and learned he wasn’t there.

She told detectives Werle called her and said he did not want to be taken alive and would shoot himself, but she convinced him to wait for police at her home. Officers found Werle walking near 13th Avenue and Coeur d’Alene Street.

NRA documentary examines Wallace shootings

The shooting of two Spokane County sheriff's deputies last year by a reputed heroin trafficker with a penchant for firearms and a long history of felony convictions is now getting national attention.

Above is a YouTube trailer for a new documentary, produced by the NRA as part of its Life of Duty series, which takes viewers on an in-depth look at the shocking case from the perspectives of those who survived it. Called “Catch & Release,” the documentary takes a critical look at U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno's decision to release accused drug kingpin Charles Wallace into an unsecured drug treatment facility in Spokane Valley while awaiting trial — over the objections of the cops and federal prosecutors familiar with the case.

As those of us in Spokane know all too well, Wallace quickly walked away from the American Behavioral Health Systems facility to a waiting car. A few days later he would open fire on Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway, critically wounding both and sparking a rolling gun battle and wild chase that ended north of Deer Park when Wallace crashed at a police blockade and then took his own life.

The Spokesman-Review interviewed the deputies last year for a gripping story about their ordeal. The magistrate, Imbrogno, has a history of controversial pre-trial release decisions but she's also been accused by defense attorneys of being too tough.

The full documentary can be viewed here.

Several firearms found inside foreclosed home

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives found several firearms inside a South Hill home where a man shot and killed himself Sunday.

Detectives seized five assault rifles and four hand guns from the 4500 block of East Sumac Drive where 62-year-old Warren C. Schrempp, Jr. was growing marijuana at a foreclosed home, according to recently filed court documents.

Detectives cataloged three of the weapons as loaded including an AK-47-style rifle, a Glock and Makarov pistol. They also found four adult marijuana plants and 10 starter plants. Schrempp had authorization to grow medical marijuana, court documents show.

Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office called Schrempp’s death a suicide. A real estate agent called police after a locksmith smelled marijuana at the property and saw a car in the garage, they told authorities.

Sheriff’s detectives found a sliding door open and announced their presence, but they heard a muffled gunshot and called a SWAT team, previous reports said.

Man arrested for March stabbing outside Spokane bar

Spokane Police officers have arrested a man suspected of stabbing a man several times outside a downtown Spokane bar last month.

Tony M. Noble, 35, was identified by employees of Bowl’z, Bitez and Spirtz as a possible suspect for stabbing a male victim ten times on March 31. The victim, identified as Sean Rushing, had stab wounds all over his body and was rushed to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. He had two collapsed lungs, officers said in recently filed court documents.

Rushing told police he left the bar around 1:45 a.m. and got into a fight. He thought he was being punched, but later woke up and learned he had been stabbed in the head, left eye, back neck, left arm and chest, court documents said.

A friend drove him to the hospital after she found him bleeding in the passenger seat of her car.

The next day, Noble told his manager at a north Spokane Zip Trip that he was jumped by some men from California. He had a black eye, the manager told police.

Detectives watched surveillance footage and saw Rushing approach someone and grab their arm. The person hit Rushing in the face. Another person held a shiny object in their hand that appeared to be a knife, detectives said.

Detectives charged Noble with first-degree assault. Noble is in custody at Spokane County Jail with a $35,000 bond.

New pot growing and processing licenses on hold

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state is delaying its timeline for granting marijuana growing and processing licenses — and that means legal marijuana sales likely won't begin before spring of next year.

Rather than issue growing licenses this summer and processor licenses this fall, as called for in a tentative prior timeline, the Liquor Control Board will issue all licenses Dec. 1, spokesman Brian Smith said Wednesday.

That means the growers likely won't be able to get to work until December, and the final product won't be ready for a couple of months after that, Smith said.

Washington joined Colorado last fall in becoming the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21, and to allow the sale of taxed pot at state-licensed stores. Washington's Liquor Control Board has been devising rules for the industry, covering topics such as how the plants will be grown, how marijuana products will be tested for strength and quality, and how many retail stores will be allowed.

Issuing all the licenses at once will help growers because they'll have a better picture of the industry before they begin growing, Smith said.

“If you were interested in becoming any of our licensees, you'd want to have a good idea of what the business landscape is going to be,” he said. “For example, if you want to grow, how much competition will you have? How many retailers will there be? You'll be able to get a sense of that right from the beginning.”

The official timeline announced Wednesday was based on input from public forums that the board held around the state regarding its implementation of Initiative 502.

The board will begin vetting draft rules for all license types with stakeholders in mid-May. The rules are expected to become effective in August, and the board will begin accepting applications for growing, processing and retailing licenses in September.

Tax day can be a bummer for everyone

With tax day looming, career criminals should take note.

The IRS is advising that all earnings, including those obtained illegally, must be reported as income for tax purposes. Additionally, criminal enterprises are ineligible for the types of business deductions enjoyed by companies engaged in lawful activities.

Before simply dismissing this as a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense, keep in mind that uber gangster Al Capone was taken down not for extortion or murder but on tax evasion for failing to report his ill-gotten gains to the IRS.

Here's how the advisory appears on the IRS website:

Illegal activities.   Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.

Potential benefits for disclosing illegal income include the possibility of being able to deduct it from future tax returns if you're ever convicted later and ordered to pay restitution.

Remember, don't shoot the messenger.

Informant led Spokane detectives to suspected drug dealers

A confidential informant led Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives to a married couple dealing meth out of a Spokane apartment, according to criminal complaint filed in United States District Court Tuesday.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Mark W. Bush (pictured left) and Crystal K. Peterson on the morning of April 4 after serving a search warrant to their apartment at 1717 E. Mallon Avenue.

Court documents describe the informant as a felon with several convictions including theft, burglary, and lying to authorities. The informant was compensated financially for the information leading to the arrest of Bush and Peterson, documents show.

The informant bought meth from Bush three times during the investigation, they told detectives, but Peterson was only present during a deal on one occasion.

Investigators seized 11 ounces of meth from the home during the search including four small bags inside a box of Nilla Wafers. Additional bags of meth were found in the bedroom in a black bag, a dresser drawer and in the kitchen freezer.

Investigators also found a purse under a mattress in the master bedroom with a cell phone and a spiral notebook with a variety of names and phone numbers.

Although the Drug Enforcement Administration was not present at the time of the search warrant last week, a special agent is filing the complaint against Bush and Peterson after Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich pushed for federal charges to give him a longer prison sentence if convicted.

Knezovich compared Bush’s criminal record to convict Eddie Ray Hall who was sentenced to a 16 years in a federal prison last year. Bush is in custody at Spokane County Jail for his 39th arrest in Washington state.

Pursuing federal charges against a repeat offender is a common tactic, Knezovich said, because it can give them a longer prison sentence and keep them off the streets.

Knezovich described this drug ring as localized and the meth was most likely not produced in Spokane.

Related content: Sheriff exasperated with repeat offender

Wanted felon arrested at South Hill apartment complex

A man wanted by authorities was discovered hiding out at a South Hill apartment complex on Monday night.

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies were looking for Raymond S. Wheatley, 44, a felony warrant for violating his court order, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. A deputy learned he was hiding at 2800 E. 27th Avenue and filed an arrest warrant to get him, the news release said.

Authorities also called in the SWAT Team to help serve the arrest warrant around 10 p.m. because of Wheatley’s 22 years of violent history against law enforcement. Deputies arrested Wheatley in 2007 after he grabbed a Spokane Valley police officer’s Taser and tried to use it against him, prior reports said.

The SWAT Team made their presence known and Wheatley reportedly came out on his own. Deputies took him into custody without incident, the release added.

Wheatley was booked into Spokane County Jail for his felony charges of violating a court order.

Newport inmate smuggles drugs into jail

A Newport man being booked into Pend Oreille County Jail on Thursday was caught smuggling a stash of drugs into his shorts.

The inmate, identified as 25-year-old Clinton E. Trickel, cut holes into his waisteband to hide hydrocodone, oxycodone, marijuana and a pipe, but jail staff found it, according to a Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Trickel had several outstanding warrants on bail jumping and lying to authorities from last month, Pend Oreille County dispatch confirmed. He failed to appear to his court dates and was arrested on those warrants.

He now faces an additional felony charge of possessing drugs.

Arson targets Browne’s Addition garbage can

A garbage can in Browne’s Addition was the target of about four fires starting on Saturday morning.

Ray Ekins lives nearby and was walking his dog Duchess around 7 a.m. when he saw the first set of flames inside the barrel at Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. The same garbage can was on fire again about an hour later, he said.

“Poor garbage can,” Ekins said. He ended up calling 911 to report three of the fires.

Fire crews from Station 4 kept responding to the reported garbage fires and a Spokane Police officer parked nearby to keep an eye on the can, Spokane Police Sgt. Dan Ervin said.

The officer saw a man, later identified as Philip B. Lewis, 47, walk up to the can and allegedly light it on fire around 4 p.m, Ervin added.

Officers took Lewis into custody for two counts of second-degree arson and the fire was extinguished.

Auto thefts continue to climb despite fatal shooting

File this under the FYI category.

The fatal shooting of a fleeing SUV thief March 25 by a gun-toting Spokane homeowner apparently has done little, if anything, to curb auto theft across the city.

In fact, the number of cars and trucks stolen across the city in the days following the the shooting climbed 15 percent over the previous week, according to crime stats compiled by the Spokane Police Department. There were 45 autos reported stolen during the week ending March 30, compared to 39 during the previous week.

Community debate over homeowner Gail Gerlach's decision to open fire on the fleeing thief, 25-year-old Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham, has continued to rage. Gerlach told police he thought the thief was armed and raising a weapon at him while driving away in the stolen SUV.

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