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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Northern Quest Casino

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.

7th suspected brothel owner arrested

The owner of two Spokane businesses suspected of being prostitution fronts was released from jail Thursday after being arrested Wednesday.

William R. Westover, 41, faces money laundering and promoting prostitution charges after a 14-month investigation culminated in raids at eight suspected brothels.

Westover owns the Far East Oriental Spa, 213 E. Sprague Ave., and the Asian Spa, 3130 N. Division St. Investigators with the Airway Heights Police Department developed confidential informants after a prostitution sting at Northern Quest Casino.

One of those informants applied for jobs with Westover and told detectives he had her display her naked breasts. Another informant said she gave Westover a massage and had sex with him, accepted payment, then declined his job offer.

Also, according to court documents, “during an interview with a confidential informant, Westover told the confidential informant that she could use a condom for a client the first time she saw the client but was not permitted after that.”

Police reviewed Westover's bank records and found he'd made 41 large deposits between January 2010 and April 2012 totally $165,000.

Six people connected to five other suspected brothels were released from jail Wednesday.

Suspected brothel owners released

Five women and one man arrested in a sweeping anti-prostitution investigation at Spokane-area spas and massage parlors have been released from jail.

The suspects, who own four of eight suspected brothels raided Tuesday, have no criminal records and were allowed to leave without posting bond. Prosecutors did not object to their release, and they were ordered to return to court July 23 to be arraigned on charges of second-degree promoting prostitution and money laundering

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 10: Eight suspected brothels raided in Spokane

Suspected area sex houses raided

Eight suspected brothels, including the Oriental Spa South at 515 S. Maple Ave., were raided across the Spokane area Tuesday by a multi-agency law enforcement task force. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

A yearlong investigation into widespread prostitution in Spokane County culminated Tuesday with raids at eight suspected brothels in what authorities say is an attempt to permanently close the longtime businesses.

Complaints from Northern Quest Casino officials about prostitution activity prompted the Airway Heights Police Department to conduct undercover strings of suspected prostitutes who in turn agreed to work as confidential informants.

Read the rest of my story here.

Marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson

The daughter of a Spokane medical marijuana dispenser recently indicted in federal court is calling on legendary singer and pot advocate Willie Nelson to take up his cause.

In an email to The Spokesman-Review, Jessica Vogel-Laberdee asks Nelson, who plays outside at Northern Quest Casino on Sunday, “to speak out about the unjustice that my dad is facing.”

“I am aware that you owe us nothing, and doing this would be a gesture that would fulfill only my wildest dreams,” Vogel-Laberdee writes, “but I am sending you this because there is a chance that you will step into my dad's shoes (if only for a moment) and decide to take action.”

Nelson's publicist says he is on vacation until his concert and unavailable for comment. The country music legend has pot problems of his own - a judge in Texas recently rejected a proposed plea bargain that would have resolved a misdemeanor marijuana case with a fine.

Vogel-Laberdee is hoping Nelson can relate to her father, who she described as “completely unconventional” and said he “has the audacity to stand up for his belief that all people deserve to be happy, even in the face of illness.”

“He does not make any money for what he does, but he dedicates all of his time to his cause,” Vogel-Laberdee said. “…He is a man filled with wonderful visions and has taught me to be an individual in a world of drones.”

Jerry Wayne Laberdee is among five people charged with federal marijuana crimes for their work at dispensaries in Spokane, which were raided by federal agents three weeks after being told to shut down.

Laberdee and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited - who has said he began using medical marijuana after losing his leg in a crash in 2009 - are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

The five defendants also face a forfeiture charge that calls for them to forfeit any property or proceeds derived from their illegal operations.

Read Vogel-Laberdee's entire letter to Nelson by clicking the link below.

2 cars, 3 lbs of pot seized in Cheney

A multi-agency marijuana investigation led to the seizure of two cars and 3 1/2 pounds of marijuana in Spokane County recently.

Cheney resident Brandon M. Collins, 27, is believed to have led the operation, which detectives say distributed more than five pounds of pot each week, mostly in Cheney and at Eastern Washington University.

Collins was arrested last Thursday following several undercover drug sales, according to a news release. He left jail on Friday after being released on his own recognizance. Investigators say Collins picked up several pounds of pot in Bellevue and often made deliveries while working for a cellular phone store in Cheney.

A second suspect, identified as a 25-year-old EWU student, has not been arrested or charged.

Investigators working with the Washington State Gambling Commission and Northern Quest Casino say Collins and his associates “appear to have laundered more than $380,000 through the casino during the last three years,” according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The investigation is being conducted by the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force, which is comprised of investigators from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police and Spokane Valley Police Departments, Washington State Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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