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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: drugs

Armed career criminal tries to check bag with gun at Northern Quest

A 54-year-old convicted felon tried to leave a bag containing drugs and a revolver at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino last week, prompting criminal charges and a federal investigation.

John B. Suttle was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday after a coat check attendant reported he tried to check a bag containing a hypodermic needle. A later search of the bag revealed a .22 revolver and a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and another that looked like heroin, according to court documents.

When asked about the gun, Suttle said he found it outside the casino and picked it up to sell because he needed money, according to court documents. Because of his prior convictions, an investigative agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrived to interview Suttle, who said he knew he shouldn't be handling a gun as a convicted felon, according to court documents.

Suttle faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing drugs with intent to deliver.

Second man accused of selling heroin arrested

Spokane police arrested 55-year-old Ernie Hern this week, the second of a pair accused of selling heroin out of a residence in the East Central neighborhood through March of last year.

Hern faces multiple possession and sale of drug charges after police used a confidential informant to buy heroin from him in January 2013, according to court documents. The informant allegedly twice bought heroin at home in the 200 block of Fiske Street, once from Hern and a second time a month later from Timothy Price, 36.

When authorities raided the house in March 2013, Price was there, but Hern wasn't. Price was arrested and scheduled to be arraigned, but never showed up, according to court records. He was taken back into custody last month and has pleaded not guilty to a drug trafficking charge.

Both Hern and Price have criminal histories that include past drug charges. Prosecutors are asking Hern be held on $1,000 bond in the new charge.

Smoking hazardous to wanted man’s health, presumed innocence

A man with an outstanding warrant revealed a needle in his waistband while reaching for one last smoke before going to jail Sunday night at Northern Quest Casino, according to court records.

An officer initially approached Preston Livingston, 28, because he was slumped over in the driver's seat of a pickup truck at the Airway Heights casino, according to court records. Livingston told the officer, who said it appeared as though Livingston were drunk, that he was waiting for a friend who was inside, according to court records.

A check of Livingston's records revealed a warrant for his arrest. When the officer told Livingston he would be taken into custody, Livingston asked for one last cigarette before going to jail. While reaching for the smoke, the officer noticed the needle in Livingston's waistband.

After handcuffing Livingston, the officer again checked the truck. Near the console, he spied another needle, a tourniquet, a scale and a black pouch, according to court records. When asked about the items, Livingston told the officer his friend was using them to get high and that he used methamphetamine, but hadn't in the past 10 hours.

Livingston was released from jail without bail, according to jail records. No charges have yet been filed against him for the drug paraphernalia, according to court records.

Pair of alleged ‘best friend’ teenage car thieves arrested

A pair of teenagers accused of stealing multiple cars they dumped when the gas ran out are both in jail facing auto and firearm theft charges.

Eli Olson, 19, was booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday after police pulled him over driving a Dodge SUV that had been reported stolen, along with a .45 caliber handgun that had been in the vehicle at the time it was taken. Olson said he was high on methamphetamine at the time of his arrest and that he'd stolen the car along with 18-year-old Austyn Witcher, who is “like a brother to him,” according to court documents.

In a subsequent interview, Olson said he and Witcher stole five vehicles that had been reported stolen by “punching the ignition,” manipulating the starter so that it can be engaged by a screwdriver, according to court documents. The two ditched the stolen vehicles when they stopped running and broke into another nearby car, their preference being Dodge and Nissan model cars, Olson said.

Witcher was subsequently arrested driving a 2000 Dodge truck that had also been reported stolen. Investigators recovered a gun in his belongings at a girlfriend's apartment, but the .45 handgun is thought to have been sold on the West Side, earning Witcher an additional money laundering charge.

Bail was set for Olson and Witcher on their charges at $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Man who denies selling cocaine found with cocaine

A 31-year-old man arrested at the Spokane Valley Mall with cash and cocaine in his pockets faces more jail time after twice denying to officers he possessed drugs.

Johnnie Counts is being held in Spokane County Jail on drug sale and prisoner possession charges after his arrest around 2:30 p.m. Friday by a deputy assigned to the mall, according to court documents. Deputies placed Counts under arrest on an outstanding warrant and searched his pant pockets, revealing more than $700 in cash. Counts was asked if he was holding drugs and given a warning their discovery at the jail would bring “more trouble,” according to the deputy's sworn statement.

Counts told the deputy, “I used to use and sell cocaine; not anymore,” according to court documents.

Searched before booking, Counts was given another chance to inform officers of drugs. Again he declined, according to court documents. Jail officers then discovered a substance that tested as crack cocaine falling to the floor during a strip search. According to investigators, the drugs were packaged for sale. Because he was being detained by jail officers when the drugs were found, prosecutors are pursuing a prisoner-in-possession charge for Counts.

Counts is being held in lieu of $15,000 bond on the two felony charges, according to jail records.

 

Western Washington home tests positive for meth

A trio of college students on the West side are apartment hunting after health officials condemned their rental home, which tested positive for methamphetamine.

The whole story from The Associated Press, based on reporting from Seattle TV station KOMO News, follows:

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A health official in Bellingham, Wash., says three college students who began to feel dizzy and lethargic after living for several months in a rental house have been told to find a new home after the house tested positive for methamphetamine. 
KOMO-TV reports (http://is.gd/5u36Oo ) that Whatcom County Health Department supervisor Jeff Hegedus says the Western Washington University students contacted the health department to ask that the home be tested. 
Hegedus said Friday that an initial health department test found meth contamination well above Whatcom County’s legal limit. A second test done by a decontamination contractor came back with an even higher meth reading. 
The health department official says the house was marked “unfit for occupancy” and the owners were told to hire a licensed decontamination contractor, which they did.

© Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wiretaps scrutinized in multi-state drug case

A case involving 62 defendants and allegedly $20 million worth of California drugs sold on the West Coast continues its circuitous trek through the federal courts, with some suspects objecting to the government’s use of wiretapping in the investigation.

 

Federal authorities announced raids in February that ended in the apprehension of what investigators said were dozens of members of a sophisticated drug delivery ring, including at least nine people in Spokane. Among those arrested was Sally Guthrie, a restaurateur who owned three Flamin’ Joes locations in the county at the time she was booked.

Suspects in California and Western Washington were also arrested, all charged with peddling OxyContin, an oft-abused prescription painkiller. Illicit use is so prevalent the Food and Drug Administration announced in September new labeling guidelines for the drug and ordered studies by pharmaceutical companies into its long-term effects.

 

Investigators allege five people oversaw the operation, charging them with monitoring a continuing criminal enterprise. Prosecutors announced their intentions to prove Gilbert Leroy Madison, currently listed in custody of the Yakima County Jail, as “a leader and supervisor” of the plot, which allegedly ran from 2008 through January.

 

Defendants are so numerous they have been grouped into three parties by the court. Some have been housed in the Spokane County Jail, others in Benton and Yakima counties, while some remain out-of-custody throughout the West Coast. The case has kept court schedulers busy, with expected trial dates of May, then December, pushed to May 2014 and likely headed for further delays. Release of more than 100,000 pages of investigative discovery hit a snag when the government inadvertently released information that compromised one of its undercover informants, according to court documents.

 

Shindona Jones, a Los Angeles woman currently in custody of the Kittitas County Jail, has requested the government turn over the details of its wiretaps in the case. Investigators bugged the cellphones of the defendants, producing hours of recorded phone calls that prosecutors plan to admit as evidence. But Jones’ attorney says the government is remaining tight-lipped about the technology involved, potentially infringing on the woman’s Constitutional rights.

 

In retort, the government has said keeping such information confidential serves a public safety interest and should remain secret.

 

A federal judge ruled last month that the details of wiretapping technology used by investigators should be made available to defense attorneys. Officials briefed attorneys of their methods during a hearing held Tuesday in Spokane.

 

 The distributors in the case face potential fines of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison, while those allegedly in charge of the operation could be sentenced to life in prison.

Police seek man who abandoned backpack of drugs

Spokane Police detectives need the public's help identifying a man who ran from a security guard last month, abandoning a backpack full of drugs as he fled.

The suspect was seen in the downtown area on Aug. 1 at 2:30 p.m., according to a news release. Police did not indicate the exact amount or how many drugs were in the man's backpack.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Drug Tip Line at 509-625-8210.

Three men facing charges for drug sales near Grant Elementary

The three Spokane men implicated in a drug-selling operation based out of a repair shop near Grant Elementary School remain mired in legal proceedings, as the building — sold in May — falls into disrepair.

Gerry Elerding, 41, was in Spokane County Superior Court on Wednesday after failing to meet with his attorney as scheduled ahead of a court date later this month. Elerding faces a charge of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance after undercover informants reportedly bought hydrocodone pills from him in March at Lonnie's Auto Repair, 826 S. Perry Ave. Elerding initially pleaded guilty to the charge, earning a year in prison, but he asked for that pleading to be thrown out in July. The state asked Elerding be held without bail Wednesday.

The previous owner of the property, Lonnie Sandros, 59, was arrested in a police bust that occurred May 15. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of unlawful use of a building for drug purposes and is set to appear at trial in September. Sandros sold the garage, which was closed for code violations early in May, to R & G South Perry, LLC, shortly after his arrest, according to tax documents filed with the Spokane County Assessor's Office.

Police arrested Joseph Johnson, 52, in the raid and found a white pill on him later identified as hydrocodone, according to court documents. Detectives say Johnson sold crystal meth to an undercover informant at the body shop in March. Johnson pleaded not guilty to possession of the hydrocodone and delivery of the methamphetamine. His trial is set for October.

Elerding, Sandros and Johnson have lengthy criminal histories, according to court records. Elerding was accused of attacking a police K9 unit in August 2011.

The Lonnie's sign still hangs above the building at 826 S. Perry, though it is unoccupied and the walls show signs of wear.

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.

Man, 78, sent to prison for pot dealing

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County will spend 2 1/2 years in federal prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. His lawyer, Jeffry Finer, said he retired from drug trafficking two years before a grand jury indicted him in September.

Shields and his wife live in Lebanon, Ore. His criminal history includes only a conviction for petty larceny in 1958.

Finer described him in court documents as a good humored man with poor hearing and early signs of dementia. He graduated high school in the 1950s but can't remember the year. He also couldn't initially remember the name of his first wife.

“Mr. Shields was ultimately able to provide it to Probation when he noticed it was tattooed on his left arm,” Finer wrote.

Prosecutors say Shields lived in Canada for 30 years. Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.

The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers.

Shields pleaded guilty in May to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns.

He was sentenced Thursday in Spokane by U.S. District Judge Rosanna Peterson to 30 months in prison followed by five years of probation. The court is recommending he be housed at the federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., to allow his wife, whom Finer described as “aged and unwell,” to visit.

Finer said a short incarceration period “will promote respect for the law and provide general deterrence to others who, like Mr. Shields, may find criminal opportunity in owning property alongside the border with Canada.”

PCP found on Valley prowling suspect

A psychedelic drug best known for stories of strange and violent behavior by its users was found on a car prowling suspect early Monday in Spokane Valley.

Deputies first thought the small piece of paper found in a plastic baggie in Eric Faux's pants pocket was LSD on blotter paper, but field tests showed it was actually PCP, or phencylidine.

Faux, 25, was contacted in the area of 12200 E. 1st Ave. about 6:30 a.m. after a man called 911 to report a stranger looking in his vehicle and trying to open the front door to his home.

Deputy Jared Kiehn arrived to find Faux standing under the man's carport. When asked where he lived, Faux “shrugged his shoulders and laughed,” according to a news release.

Kiehn handcuffed Faux but Faux attempted to run away. He was arrested for obstructing and subsequently searched. That's when Kiehn found the PCP.

Faux was taken to jail for obstructing, second-degree vehicle prowling and possession of a controlled substance.

While en route to the jail, Faux “was yelling at passing cars, growling, having a conversation with himself and sweating profusely,” according to a news release. 'Deputy Kiehn advised the jail nurse of Faux possibly having ingested PCP when he arrived at the jail.”

Home-invasion robber gets 10 years

A robber who fled a north Spokane home after being struck with a sword has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.

Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, alias Gardner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt to 129 months, according to court records.

McDaniels was arrested in May for a robbery  in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court, as was Nathan W. Day, 21.

Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May. Erik J. Zacher, 26, was arrested in July.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Vegas woman accused in OxyContin ring

A Las Vegas woman and her father are accused of helping distribute large amounts of OxyContin that included sales tracked in Eastern Washington.

Tiffany Diane Frehner, 31, and John Lawrence Frehner, 57, are charged in connection with a federal complaint filed in January against Frehner's boyfriend, Robert John Beron.

Beron, owner of a company called Lexxxy Nite Productions, is accused of selling OxyContin to Mitchell Hargan, Marisol Hernandez, Jaime McGahuey and Kim Chavez of Wenatchee.

Beron, who traveled to Washington regularly, told a confidential informant he was still able to get the old OxyContin pills distributed before Purdue Pharma changed the formula to make them harder to abuse, which gave him huge profits, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

He also arranged to sell the informant 400 80-mg pills for $6,000, charges allege. Beron told the informant he had a customer in Wenatchee who bought $100,000 worth of OxyContin a month.

Beron was arrested at his home in Salinas, Calif., on Jan. 12.  Police found a 9 mm handgun and 530 methadone pills.

Beron was out of jail awaiting trial and wearing an electronic monitor, but he was arrested on a warrant July 18 in San Jose.

Frehner was arrested July 19 in Las Vegas.

She and her father each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

Where’s the heroin? Oops. Wrong house.

Two suspected serial robbers apparently picked the wrong target back in late May, Spokane police say.

Flint Fire Herrmann, 35, and David Fredrick Smith, 41, are charged with first-degree robbery for an invasion May 29 at a home in the 1900 block of West 26th Ave. Already in jail, they appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on the new charges Tuesday.

A victim told police one of the men “was yelling at the other male telling him they had the wrong people and they should leave,” according to court documents. The other man tried to steal a portable video game player “only breaking it instead,” police wrote

A resident said she awoke about 11:30 p.m. to a masked man standing next to her bed “pointing a large gun in her face.” The woman said the man called her “Chandra” and demanded heroin, hen got very upset when she told him he had the wrong person. The woman feared two other men in the home had been killed , and that she was about to be killed, police say.

Two nights later, Herrmann and Smith successfully robbed a home in the 4400 block of East 46th Avenue of drugs and cash. They're also suspected in a robbery that same night at a home on West Spofford Avenue. Smith also is believed to have shot Robert Ruth during a robbery on West Princeton Avenue on May 29. Ruth is accused of helping cop shooter Charles Wallace.

Police arrested Smith in June and searched his home in the 2600 block of West Dell Avenue, where they recovered bandanas, a ski mask, 9 mm gun and a .380 Revolver.

Herrmann was arrested July 16.
  

Murdered man’s apartment burglarized

The family of a Western Washington man shot and killed nearly two weeks ago went to his Liberty Lake apartment to collect his things, only to find it burglarized and his newly purchased assault rifle missing.

Ryan Crews Mumm, 20, had been living in the area attending Spokane Community College, according to news reports.

He was shot and killed July 14 at Blue Stilly Park in Arlington in what police described as a dispute over $20 of marijuana. Suspect Dennis R. Watters, 41, of Tulalip, is in jail.

Mumm grew up in Arlington, and his family lives there. His sister, Jessica Olson, traveled to Liberty Lake to remove his items from the apartment at 22809 E. Country Vista Dr. and found it burglarized. An open rifle case sat on the living room floor. Olson said Mumm had bought a firearm at Cabela’s a couple months ago.

Liberty Lake police Detective Ray Bourgeois obtained a search warrant for Cabela’s firearm records that indicated the gun was a Romarm AK-47 assault rifle purchased by Mumm on Feb. 12. He entered the gun as stolen.

Reward targets Davenport Hotel thief

A Spokane man who stole laptop computers from a convention at the Davenport Hotel is wanted by Crime Stoppers after ditching drug addiction treatment.

 Sean Alexander Blair, 31, hasn't reported to the Washington Department of Corrections since leaving rehab on April 25. A no-bail warrant was issued July 11 for his arrest.

He already was facing felony theft and drug charges when police identified him last year as a suspect in Nov. 17 thefts at the Davenport Hotel, which occurred as the Tri-State Grain Growers convened at the upscale hotel in downtown Spokane.

Blair was sentenced to drug rehab as part of his sentence for felony property crime convictions. He told his rehab counselor he liked the feeling meth gave him; addiction experts say financial problems and family issues may contribute to his use.

Anyone with information on Blair's location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Suspect arrested in May home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in the Indian Trail area that ended with a resident confronting his attackers with a sword.

Erik J. Zacher, 26, is accused of robbing residents in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in May.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested a day after the robbery. McDaniels still is there; Day is out on $25,000 bond.  Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May and remains in jail.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Zacher is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested Saturday.

Crime Stoppers seeks drug rehab quitter

A man arrested for breaking into a car in downtown Spokane last summer is wanted by Crime Stoppers for dropping out of drug addiction treatment.

Glen Wayne O'Brien, 35, was jailed earlier this year for failing to comply with a sentence for a felony drug case that requires him to complete intensive treatment.

In a letter to a judge in March, O'Brien asked for a second chance.

“I am struggling with my addiction and it is very hard, but I truly want to get clean so I can move on to a better life,” O'Brien wrote.

O'Brien got that chance, but he left rehab July 2 and hasn't been seen since, according to court documents.

O'Brien was in drug rehab after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance last ear. He was arrested in June 2011 after several people saw him breaking into a car in downtown Spokane.

O'Brien is considered by police to be a repeat offender. His 12-year criminal history includes convictions for forgery, stolen property, drugs, theft and vehicle theft.

Anyone with information is asked on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Tipsters do not have to give their names to receive a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Man shot in April arrested at CdA Casino

A man shot in what police believe was a drug-related incident on Spokane's South Hill in April was arrested today at the Coeur d'Alene Casino for a brutal assault in Adams County.

Arthur Frank Cardenas, 33, has been wanted since July 11 on a $500,000 warrant for charges of first-degree robbery and first-degree assault.

A casino security officer saw him today about 5 a.m. and requested assistance from tribal police as surveillance employees watched Cardenas walk back to his room through the cameras.

U.S. Marshals arrived to help arrest Cardenas, who has been described as a gang leader. He was taken into custody about 9 a.m.Police found drugs and weapons in his room and arrested four other people. Their names have not been released.

“This arrest is the result of great work by one of our very own tribal police officers and a collaborative effort with the U.S. Marshals to bring Cardenas in. I’m very proud of our guys and appreciative to the U.S. Marshals for their cooperation,” Coeur d’Alene Tribe Police Chief Cody SiJohn said in a prepared statement.

Cardena's friend Alicia Maria Favro was indicted just two weeks ago on a felon in possession of a firearm charge in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Favro, 42, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of possessing a chrome Walther semi-automatic .380 caliber handgun that was found in her purse when she tried to go through security at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in April. She's in custody at the Spokane County Jail.

Cardenas' gunshot wound back in April  was not life threatening. A medic who treated him was severely burned by a chemical substance while treating Cardenas. Police didn't find toxic substances in Cardenas' car, but they did find large amounts of cash and methamphetamine.

Favro told police she went to Northern Quest Casino with Cardenas after he won $3,000 gambling in Moses Lake, according to court documents.

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