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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: methamphetamine

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.

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.

Drug dealer caught peddling 99.9% pure meth is headed to prison

A Spokane man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for selling high-quality methamphetamine to an undercover officer and leading police on a car chase near the Coeur d’Alene Casino last January.

Charles Edward Gibson, 43, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’AleneÖÖ for conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of meth between Dec. 4, 2012, and Jan. 8. U.S. District Judge Rosanna Malouf Petersen of the Eastern District of WashingtonÖÖ also ordered Gibson to spend 10 years on supervised release after he’s out of jail and forfeit $35,000 – the estimated street value of the meth, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.

According to investigators, Gibson had been distributing meth, cocaine and other drugs on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation late last year and early this year. He supplied the drugs to other distributors, including Vanessa Louise Wagner, 30, of Plummer.

Gibson and Wagner both pleaded guilty over the summer to conspiracy to distribute meth, and Wagner is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Dec. 9.

Wagner introduced the undercover officer to Gibson, who sold meth and some heroin to the officer in December and January. On Jan. 8, the officer met Gibson at a gas station near the casino and purchased meth that was 99.9 percent pure, investigators said.

After the buy, officers began to converge on Gibson’s car. The suspect sped out of the parking lot and at one point drove straight toward an officer trying to arrest him. The officer fired once, striking Gibson, but the bullet had slowed sufficiently to only cause him bruising, according to the federal case file.

Gibson continued his high-speed flight, throwing cash out the window, before his car was stopped by a spike strip and he was arrested.

Officers found more than a pound of meth, LSD and a loaded handgun in his car.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration, Idaho State Police, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police and Plummer Police Department.

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.

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.

Woman gets 10 years for shooting

A woman who shot a man three times after he accidentally hit her with a half-pint bottle has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Leona Sutton, 34, is a methamphetamine addict who federal prosecutors say is very dangerous.

“Defendant's livelihood has been a criminal one. Daily use of methamphetamine and distributing it to feed the habit,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office. “The public is not safe when she consumes alcohol or methamphetamine. It also is not safe when she has access to a firearm.”

Sutton shot the man, with whom she frequently used meth, on Oct. 2 with a .22 caliber rifle in Keller, Wash., on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Family told the FBI she had a history of violence and frequently tried to coerce her ex-boyfriend into assaulting people” and “routinely told him that she wanted “to kick someone's ass,” prosecutors wrote.

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen on Thursday sentenced Sutton to 120 months and 1 day in prison for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and assault with a dangerous weapon, followed by three years of probation. She also is to pay $5,796.24 restitution. Nielsen recommended she undergo treatment for drug addiction while in prison.

Mike Ormsby, U.S. Attorney in Eastern Washington, praised the sentence in a prepared statement.

“Crimes of violence will not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Washington, particularly those crimes occurring on Tribal lands,” Ormsby said. “The Sutton case is yet another example of the United States Attorney's Office’s commitment to prosecute vigorously violent crimes.”
  

Dumpster dive leads to felony arrest

A man arrested for being inside a dumpster outside a drug store was booked into jail on a felony charge after police found methamphetamine in his backpack.

Darrell Leon Brunson, 47, told Deputy David Westlake he believed it was legal to be inside a store dumpster when Westlake found him hiding in the dumpster outside Walgreens, 7905 N. Division St., about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

“When Deputy Westlake asked why he was not making a noise as he approached, Brunson did not have an answer,” according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Walgreens employees requested trespassing charges be pursued against Brunson. Westlake found the meth in a plastic baggie inside Brunson's backpack and says it tested positive for the drug.

Brunson has previous convictions for drugs and trespassing.

Sex offender arrested after car chase

A sex offender sought by Crime Stoppers was arrested Thursday after leading troopers on a chase in the West Plains area.

Phillip John Motyka, 45, pulled into a parking lot but just circled through and exited back on state Route 2 after Washington State Patrol Trooper Chad Kindler tried to stop him for driving without a front license plate.

Trooper Tom Shirey joined in the pursuit and followed Motyka to another parking lot and attempted to stop the car with a PIT maneuver after Motyka struck his patrol car, according to WSP.

Motyka exited the car with his hands up, then drove to the ground and was arrested without further incident.

Motyka had methamphetamine, heroin and morphine on him, according to WSP. He was arrested on drug charges, as well as attempt to elude, hit and run, and driving while suspended.

He had warrants out for his arrest, including for failing to register as a sex offender. Motyka was convicted of third-degree rape in 1990. He's a level 1 sex offender, which is the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Killer in hotel trashing left prison in ‘11

A convicted killer accused of trashing a Spokane Valley motel while celebrating he and his wife's anniversary was released from prison just 15 months ago.

Danial Caleb Peters, 38, murdered Melissa Mae Wageman, 40, on  Dec. 22, 1995, after smoking crack cocaine. He told police he didn't member beating the woman to death with 4-foot pipe but awoke to find her bloody body nearby.

The circumstances are similar to what Peters' public defender, Mike Elston, said apparently happened Tuesday night at the Pheasant Hill Inn, 12415 E. Mission Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Peters “claims a drug-educed paranoid episode” led to him destroying the room he and his wife, Danielle Lea Wozniak, 27, returned to celebrate their one-year anniversary, Elston said Thursday at Peters' appearance in Spokane County Superior Court.

Wozniak told police Peters destroyed the room after they used methamphetamine.

“I want everybody to know that I'm very sorry for the drug use that I did,” Wozniak said in court Thursday.

Peters told police “that he felt people were after him” and broke a water sprinkler in an attempt to get help, according to court documents.

He said Wozniak destroyed other items like a mirrors, lamps, air conditioner and phone, but Wozniak said it was Peters. Police responded about 6 a.m. and say the duo caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the hotel, which had recently been renovated.

Water damage from the sprinklers means only 28 of the hotel’s 104 rooms usable. Peters and Wozniak were booked into jail on a felony charge of first-degree malicious mischief. They married in March, Wozniak said.

Wozniak's criminal history includes a single misdemeanor conviction two years ago. Judge Annette Plese ordered her to stay in jail unless she posts $2,500 bond.

Plese set Peters' bond at $5,000 and told him she had “really serious concerns about your criminal history.”

Peters said he has a “very good job” at a construction company that was set up through a church.
The couple was staying with Peters' mother, according to court testimony, but she told court officials they are no longer allowed there.

Peters was sentenced to 17 years in prison in February 1996, but his conviction and scores of others were overturned in 2004 because the Washington Supreme Court ruled the second-degree murder law was defective. He was re-sentenced in 2005.

Wageman met up with Peters while celebrating her 40th birthday at the Happy Time Tavern, 3506 N. Division St. She was killed at a nearby home where Peters had been staying with his his older gay lover after smoking marijuana and crack cocaine. Peters then used his lover's truck to take Wageman’s body to a friend’s house in Stevens County. Upon arrival, the friend handed Peters a phone so he could turn himself in.

Peters didn't deny killing Wageman but said he didn't remember doing so. Wageman was a single mother who was raising a son who, at the time, was an honor student and musician at Shadle Park High School.

Peters finished his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in January 2011 and still is completing his two-year probation term, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.
  

Cops remark on meth suspect’s honesty

Police in Spokane Valley remarked on the honesty of a man after he admitted he had a glass pipe and bag of methamphetamine in his pocket.

Christopher Joseph Nordby, 47, was standing next to a car holding a screw driver near East Valleyway Avenue and North Mullan Road Tuesday about 7:45 p.m. when sheriff's Deputy Juan Rodriguez stopped and told him he looked suspicious.

Nordby told him it was his car and he was working on the carburetor, but he didn't have anything to verify the car was his. Rodriguez asked him if he had a suspended license and Nordby, who was described as very nervous, aid he thought he did and also thought he had a warrant for drunken driving.

Rodriguez verified his license was suspended and handcuffed Nordby. Nordby then told him about the glass pipe and methamphetamine. He was booked into jail for felony meth possession.

Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, wrote a news release about the arrest and headlined it “Honest Valley Man Arrested For Meth.”

Chronic DUI suspect Crabtree sentenced

A chronic drunken driving suspect who badly injured a sheriff's deputy in a crash about 10 years ago has been sentenced to two years in prison on drug charges.

James Lee Crabtree, 51, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison after being sentenced to 24 months for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced last month to a year in jail and two years probation for a felony DUI charge.

Crabtree was a Spokane County sheriff's deputy in the 1980s. He went to prison for vehicular assault in 2003 and was arrested in November 2011 on suspicion of drunken driving after motorists noticed him passing out at the wheel of his car.

Police found an open can of Four Loko in the car, but his blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit for driving, and he was never charged. His current convictons stems from drunken driving and meth arrests in April and July.

In January, Crabtree was assaulted in a home-invasion robbery in which two assailants demanded “dope and money,” according to court documents.

Drug dealer mistakenly texts police

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Police say a drug dealer mistakenly sent messages to a California central coast police officer in an attempt to sell methamphetamine.

The Santa Maria officer notified Santa Barbara County sheriff's detectives about the errant text messages early Tuesday. The officer and detectives then set up a meeting with the alleged drug dealer.

Sheriff's spokesman Drew Sugars says they arrested 39-year-old Reymundo Carlos Escobedo and seized about 2 grams of methamphetamine.

A news release says 37-year-old John Martin Silvera, who is Escobedo's suspected methamphetamine supplier, also arrived and was arrested with about 7 grams of methamphetamine.

Escobedo and Silvera remain held on drug charges, including criminal conspiracy. Bail is set at $30,000 each.

Girlfriend of alleged serial burglar jailed

The girlfriend of a suspected serial burglar was arrested today for her alleged role in the spree.

Tawnya Ann Werre, 43, joins her boyfriend, Dean Michael Blackford, in the Spokane County Jail, where Blackford (pictured) has been since his arrest April 24.

Investigators believe Werre is involved in an April 4 burglary at a home in Valleyford in which three young girls hid in a bedroom as a man broke in the front door and ransacked the home. Police believe that man was Blackford.

The case prompted Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, flanked by victim homeowner and mother Melissa Bambock, to announce a new initiative with prosecutors and Spokane police to try to combat property crime, despite dwindling resources.

Blackford, 50, told detectives he burglarized at least 20 homes to fund his methamphetamine addiction.

Detectives believe Werre sold stolen goods at pawn shops. They also believe she helped Blackford burglarize at least some of the homes.

Werre has 10 felony convictions including forgery, theft and drug charges. She was booked into jail today on charges eight counts of residential burglary, five counts of first-degree theft, three counts of second-degree theft, and single counts of second-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.

Blackford has pleaded not guilty to his charges and remains in jail awaiting trial.

Investigators arrested seven others while searching three locations connected to Blackford just after his arrest. Read more here.

Bevy of drugs found in felon’s truck

A longtime Spokane felon who fought with police in a Browne's Addition grocery store parking lot last week had about three ounces of heroin in his vehicle, police said today.

Stephen Patrick Link, 46, pleaded not guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine, attempt to elude a police vehicle and two counts of third-degree assault for the May 21 incident with Sgt. Kurt Vigesaa and Officer Ron Van Tassel at Rosauers, 1800 W. 2nd Ave.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Link with six additional drug felonies after a search of his Ford Ranger on Friday revealed the heroin, valued at $2,400, marijuana packaged for sale and four prescription drugs packaged for sale, as well as a scale and baggies.

Police also found two syringes loaded with suspected heroin.  Those drugs were found in addition to methamphetamine, more than $7,000 and 35 suspected stolen gift cards that were found on the ground next to Link the night of his arrest.

Police began pursuing Link after a homeowner in the 4800 block of North Oak Street reported a man sitting in a truck in front of his home smoking drugs. Vigesaa attempted to stop Link near North Ash Street and West Grace Avenue, but he fled and crossed the Maple Street Bridge into downtown.

Police used a PIT maneuver to stop the truck, and Link exited the vehicle and fought with Vigesaa, who said he nearly lost consciousness and didn't know what hit him after he was attacked by Link, according to court documents. Vigesaa was treated at a hospital for cut eye and a broken blood vessel. (Police released a photo of the injury today)

Link also kicked and punched Van Tassel and broke his watch, police say Backup officers arrived and Link was shocked with a Taser and taken to the ground before being handcuffed. (View a photo from the scene here.) He was taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Link is well known to drug detectives “who have worked previous cases involving him,” according to a news release by police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Vigesaa and Van Tassel have returned to work, DeRuwe said.

“This situation illustrates not only the dangers of police work, but how officers work together to effectively apprehend and remove a criminal suspect from the streets of Spokane.”

Link remains in the Spokane County Jail.

Police: We saved repeat offender’s life

Spokane police say they saved the life of a career criminal and sex offender when he went into cardiac arrest after he was taken into custody Sunday.

Officer Nick Geren administered first aid on Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, while he was being transported to the jail after he was picked up the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team.

Epperson was taken to a hospital, then booked into jail on a slew of felony charges related to a home-invasion robbery and a burglary spree.

Epperson is level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. A woman who identified herself as his sister said in an email to The Spokesman-Review that he has “at least 10 kids that we know about.”

“He is a menace,” Melissa Epperson said in the email. “Please fight to keep him locked up for your community and his children.”

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County.

Investigators believe he burglarized homes of guns, electronics and jewelry to help pay a $1,000 debt to his heroin dealer. Epperson's girlfriend, Chelsey M. Loe, also is suspected in the case. Investigators searched the couple's home at 51 E. Crown on May 6 and recovered meth and suspected stolen property.

Epperson told sheriff's detectives he burglarized homes with Anthony L. Haines, who was arrested May 2 with a gun stolen in one of the burglaries, according to court documents.

Epperson was out of jail awaiting arraignment in that case when police say he helped rob residents at a home in the Indian Trail area May 22. Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Geren was awarded the Spokane Police Department's life-saving award in 2008 after he and Officer Brian Eckersley administered CPR on a woman who'd fallen unconscious in downtown Spokane.

Sex offender arrested in home invasion

A sex offender suspected in a violent gunpoint home-invasion robbery was arrested today.

 Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, was booked into jail on felony charges related to an early-morning attack last Tuesday in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Epperson in the 4200 block of North Atlantic Street, Officer Brian Eckersley said in a news release.

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County and is to be arraigned Wednesday on residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and resisting arrest charges.

He was out of jail awaiting that arraignment when police allege he partook in the robbery, which involved the victims being bound with zip ties and one being pistol whipped.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Epperson faces charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, Eckersley said. Prosecutors filed charges on Friday.

Epperson is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. He was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2003. He also has a conviction for indecent liberties.

Drugs, guns seized near Valley school

Sheriff's investigators arrested a suspected methamphetamine dealer this week after a month's long investigation that yielded not only drugs but three guns.

His Spokane Valley home's backyard is connected to the playground of Trentwood Elementary School.

Gang and drug detectives obtained search warrants for the Eric D. Rangel's home, vehicle and person after a confidential informant bought methamphetamine from Rangel several times.

Police arrested Rangel, 26, Wednesday at East Eighth Avenue and South Carnahan Road in Spokane Valley and seized his car. He had methamphetamine and $3,400 on him, as well as two .9 mm pistols and additional meth in the car.

Detectives searched his home Thursday in the 4900 block of North Calvin Road and seized more meth, as well as heroin, hydrocodone, marijuana, a.12 gauge shotgun and .9 mm ammunition.

Rangel told detectives he sells meth in the Valley, according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

He also admitted to leaving a stolen firearm in a motel room where he'd briefly stayed. Deputies had recently recovered the firearm, which Rangel said he'd obtained in exchange for meth.

Rangel has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing weapons.

2 arrested in Indian Trail home invasion

Two men have been arrested for a north Spokane home-invasion robbery in which the victims were bound with zip ties and one was pistol whipped.

Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, are accused of entering a home in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area about 2:45 a.m Tuesday, awaking a resident and asking him about a safe before stealing other items.

The victim said Day was armed with a handgun, and McDaniels told him to “be quiet and do what we say or you are going to get shot,” according to court documents prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Day struck the victim with in the eye with the butt of the gun, but the man said he was able to break free from his zip ties and jump out a window. He said his Wii gaming console and games were stolen during the robbery.

Another 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.

But that man was able to break free, too, and he grabbed a sword and struck McDaniels in the arm with it. The robbers then fled. The man's girlfriend said the robbers also threatened her with a gun and stole her iPhone.

Detectives conducting surveillance on the suspects Wednesday spotted McDaniels in the 4700 block of North Standard and arrested him. He had with him credit cards and a driver's license belonging to one of the victims, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Day was arrested Wednesday in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue with a stolen handgun. Police recovered the stolen Wii console from a home there, as well as baggies of methamphetamine.

The men were jailed on robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges. A third suspect, Joshua C. Epperson, is not yet in custody,

Serial theft suspect charged, again

The suspected leader of a burglary ring that victimized homes in the Spokane area has been charged by prosecutors.

 Randall T. Smeltzer, 33, is to be arraigned May 30 on burglary, theft and meth charges. He's accused of burglarizing a home in the 3500 block of South Fancher in October, but police believe he's responsible for many more break ins. Detectives have been investigating him since last fall and served a search warrant at his home on East Thurston Avenue in November, where they recovered stolen property.

Samuel J. Aldrich, 29, also is accused of burglarizing the home. Jessica M. Staggs, 27, told police she was in the car when the men broke into the home, according to court documents.She pawned stolen jewelry at four stores after the burglary, police say.

Police say Aldrich admitted to kicking in he home's back door and helping Smeltzer carry a TV and jewelry box from the home. Staggs also is charged in a car and fuel theft case from April 11, along with Robert M. Shore and Artem G. Kuznetsov.

Even after police began investigating him, Smeltzer's alleged crime spree continued. He's charged with third-degree retail theft for an incident at the North Colton WalMart on March 28. He also faces stolen property and possession of a stolen motor vehicle charges for a case from November.

Police say Donnelle C Velasquez, 41, also is connected to the thefts. She's charged with Aldrich in a case from January involving an alleged counterfeit check and identity theft ring with 14 defendants.

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