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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: OxyContin

Police: Oxy robber dead after shooting self

A suspected serial OxyContin robber who shot himself after a police chase Tuesday died at a Spokane hospital the next day.  

Nicholas T. “Niko” Burden, 31, worked as a car salesman and lived with his girlfriend and baby daughter before detectives say he began feeding an apparent OxyContin addiction by robbing pharmacies.

He was hospitalized Tuesday after police say he shot himself in a stolen Jeep he used to flee an armed robbery at the Rite Aid at 2929 E. 29th Ave.

He was on life support Wednesday, and later died, according to a nursing supervisor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Read the rest of my story here.

1 man sought in 2 OxyContin robberies

,One “very dangerous” man is responsible for two gunpoint OxyContin robberies at different Albertsons pharmacies in Spokane County this month, police announced today.  

Detectives released photos of the robber pulling a gun near a young girl July 23 at the store at 57th and Regal and pointing the firearm at a store employee as he ran out the westside front doors.

He ran to the west and then south before hew as picked up by someone in a white SUV “virtually identical to a 2007 or older Toyota Sequoia” according to a Crime Stoppers news release. (That model is pictured.)

Photos showing a hooded Hurley sweatshirt and makeshift mask worn in a July 9 armed robbery at the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne in Millwood, then discarded in a dumpster behind a nearby school district building, already are available. The outfit is similar to that worn during last week’s robbery.

  Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the powerful prescription drug, is offering a $1,000 reward through Crime Stoppers for tips that lead to an arrest.

The robber is described as a white man in his 20s, 6-feet to 6-foot-4 and thin.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

$1,000 reward for tips on OxyContin robbery

The company that makes OxyContin is offering a  $1,000 reward for tips that solve a robbery at an Albertsons pharmacy in Millwood July 9.

Detectives last week released photos of the jacket and a knit hat used as a mask, which were in a dumpster behind a school district building.

The robber ran north to the building after leaving the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne with stolen OxyContin at 9:17 a.m. on July 9, Crime Stoppers said today.

The robber tried to flee out a back door, but ran out the front door after an alarm sounded. The man had a black semi-automatic handgun he kept pointed at an employee. He’d entered the store wearing a dark hooded Hurley jacket with the hood up, along with gray or faded denim jeans.

“He was hunched over with his arms crossed as if he was sick or injured,” according to a police news release. The man is described as white, about 6-foot-4 with a thin to medium build.

Along with the jacket and knit mask with makeshift holes for his eyes and mouth, the robber wore black running shoes and faded grey jeans.

OxyContin giant Purdue Pharma is offering the $1,000 reward through Crime Stoppers.The robbery is the second in the Sopakne area this month - the Albertsons at 57th and Regal was robbed of OxyContin Friday morning.

Anyone with information on the July 9 robbery is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Pictures show armed OxyContin robber

A gunman robbed a South Hill pharmacy of OxyContin Friday morning.

The robber pointed a semi-automatic pistol at employees at the Albertsons  at 57th and Regal just after 9 a.m.

The man pulled the gun from his waistband as he approached the pharmacy from the dairy section and fled westbound from the store with the powerful prescription pain killer.

The robber ran south along the west side of Regal before a small white car picked him.

The gunman was described as white, in his late 20s or early 30s, 6-feet tall or slighter taller. He had  “bright blue eyes” and wore a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and a piece of dark fabric across his face, along with blue, baggy jeans.

The store is the second Albertsons robbed of OxyContin this month. Crime Stoppers still is offering a reward for tips that help solve the July 9 robbery at the Trent and Argonne store.

Detectives don’t know if the robberies are related.

Walgreens, a once-prime target for OxyContin robbers has only been hit once since installing time-release safes to store the drug last fall. The company expanded the time-release safes to Idaho and Oregon this week.

Anyone with information on today’s robbery is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Photos show robber’s clothes; tips sought

Crime Stoppers if offering a reward for tips that help identify the masked gunman who robbed a pharmacy of OxyContin last week. 

Detectives released photos of the jacket and a knit hat used as a mask today in hopes someone will recognize them and call for the reward.

Police found the items in a dumpster behind a school district building. The robber ran north to the building after leaving the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne with stolen OxyContin about 9:10 a.m. on July 9.

The man had a black semi-automatic handgun he kept pointed at an employee. He’d entered the store wearing a dark hooded Hurley jacket with the hood up, along with gray or faded denim jeans.

“He was hunched over with his arms crossed as if he was sick or injured,” according to a news release. 

The man was described as in his early to mid-20s, 6-feet tall to 6-foot-5.

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

Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Polygraph clears robbery suspect’s driver

No charges will be filed against a Spokane man arrested on suspicion of driving the getaway truck in an OxyContin robbery at a North Side Walgreens last week.

Although David L. Ratener, 55, was driving the truck, he passed two lie detector tests that showed he knew nothing of the alleged robbery by a young man whom he was driving from a downtown bar May 22. Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz notified Ratener’s attorney, Tim Note, of the decision last week. 

Ratener got his truck back the next day. He also “got crash course in the justice system,” Ratener said today. 

Ratener was arrested with Robert K. Morris on May 22 after police said Morris robbed the Walgreens at Division Street and Empire Avenue of OxyContin, then fled in Ratener’s truck.

Morris, 26, is to be arraigned on a first-degree robbery charge June 21, but Ratener passed a police-administered polygraph that cleared him of wrongdoing, according to a letter by Steinmetz.

Today, Ratener said that Morris had told him he needed a ride to the Walgreens area to pick up money from a friend. Ratener parked his truck about a block from the store, and Morris returned a few minutes later and said they could leave. Nothing seemed suspicious. Minutes later, police were behind Ratener’s truck. He pulled over and their lights flashed; he looked over and saw Morris swallowing pills, he said.

“I didn’t know the Walgreens had been robbed until the police told me,” Ratener said. “Once they told me what happened it was like ‘how the hell did I get involved in this?’”

Between the robbery and the police stop, Ratener drove back by the pharmacy – another fact that helped his defense, Note said.

Still, “I don’t believe there’s anything Mr. Ratener could have said to avoid getting arrested,” Note said. “It looked bad.”

Ratener spent two days in jail before he was released on his own recognize after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court. He said he used skills learned in survival training in the military to get by.

Note said Ratener case was one of the most bizarre he’s seen.

He learned of the robbery in the news and “pictured some scraggly haired doper looking” man when he arrived at the jail to interview Ratener.

But the senior sound engineer for several Spokane radio stations hardly matched Note’s image of him.

Ratener’s upper middle-class lifestyle, Note said, affords him “no motive for a robbery.”

Past coverage: May 25: Driver was victim of circumstance, lawyer says

Robbery driver is sound pro for local radio

Just after police arrest two people described as major sources of OxyContin in the region, Spokane County see its first pharmacy robbery in several months.

But the incident early Saturday at 12 E. Empire Ave was “not the typical OxyContin theft,” the accused getaway driver’s lawyer said in court Monday.

David L. Ratener, 55, is the senior sound engineer for seven Spokane radio stations. He says he met the other suspect, 26-year-old Robert K. Morris, at a bar Friday night.

“I think he was purely a victim of circumstance on this,” said Ratener’s lawyer, Tim Note.

Read my story: Driver was victim of circumstance, lawyer says

4 police raids part of ongoing OxyContin case

An ongoing investigation into OxyContin distribution in Spokane has led to at least four arrests and raids at several Valley apartments this month.

Suspects Kevin D. Miles, 28, and Tashina A. Perkins, 26, are believed to be large distributors of the powerful pain medication.

They were arrested Thursday after an early-morning raid at their apartment at 12112 E. Alki Ave.

Spokane Valley police detectives found almost 700 OxyContin pills and nearly $160,000 in cash.

They believe Miles, who moved to Spokane from California about five months ago, was preparing to return to California to get more pills.

Read the rest of my story here.

Oxy dealer, pharmacy robber pleads guilty

An OxyContin dealer who helped rob two pharmacies faces at least five years in prison after pleading guilty to five felonies Tuesday.

 Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28, has been in jail since Sept. 15 after he led Spokane police on a chase through the South Hill, abandoned his car then was arrested in the back of another car with his robbery accomplice, Dustin J. Rockstrom and his roommate, Dalen J. McMillon.

Rockstrom, 27, was sentenced in March to 13 months in prison for two counts of second-degree robbery for pill heists at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St. on Aug. 24, then the Rite Aid across the street on Sept. 5.  Weyrauch was his getaway driver.

Weyrauch pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of attempted second-degree robbery, two counts of delivery of a controlled substance (OxyContin) and one count of attempting to elude police.

The plea deal with Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy amended the original second-degree robbery charges and will recommend a judge sentence Weyrauch to 60 months in prison, the low end of his standard sentencing range for the robbery charges. He could be sentenced to as many as 120 months.

The drug-dealing charges are related to transactions with a confidential informant on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. McMillon, 27, also is charged in those incidents. He’s out of jail on bond.

Weyrauch remains in jail awaiting sentencing. Weyrauch’s convictions include second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful imprisonment (domestic violence) and third-degree domestic violence assault, second degree possession of stolen property and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance - cocaine.

Before his criminal activity made the paper, Weyrauch was profiled in the Spokesman-Review Valley Voice as a successful skier who qualified for the Junior Olympics. A ski coach was impressed with Weyrauch’s dedication to the sport. Read the story from 1997 here.

Past coverage:

March 9: Wigged OxyContin robber gets 13 months

March 3: Suspect’s roomie accused of selling Oxy

Nov. 18: Another charge for Oxy robbery suspect

Sept. 22: Searching for robber, police find possible Oxy ring

2 men accused of 3 robberies in CdA

Three robberies in Coeur d’Alene late Wednesday and early today are believed to be the work of two men arrested with OxyContin stolen from a pharmacy. 

Michael D. Frank (right), 20, and Stephen J. Beck (below, left), 23, were arrested after police spotted them in Nissan that matched the description of the getaway car used in an attempted robbery Piggies Deli & Market, 2001 E. Sherman Ave., about 8:30 p.m.

In that case, a store clerk refused to hand over cash to the gunman, who fled in the Nissan.

  Police say Frank and Beck robbed Walgreens, 335 W. Appleway Ave., of a small amount of OxyContin about 5 a.m. after another failed robbery attempt at Taj Market, 1003 N. 15th St., about midnight.

Witnesses to the Piggies incident described the getaway driver as a woman, but Sgt. Christie Wood said only Frank and Beck appear to be responsible for the crimes.

Wood said the men are not suspects in other robberies in the area. The men were booked into Kootenai County Jail on robbery charges.

Beck was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant in Oneida County, Idaho and has a previous conviction in Montana for drug possession. Frank, alias Michael Daniel Lehti, went to prison for robbing a woman at gunpoint outside the Silver Lake Mall in 2007. He’s on parole, police said.

Oxy addict, mom tied to church burglaries

A series of church burglaries busted by police last week apparently began four months ago when a young man stole a purse from a Mormon church with his mother.

The suspect, Andy W. Hoke, 24, told police he used stolen credit cards to buy expensive electronics that he would then trade to a man he knew as “Stevie D” for OxyContin. Police identified that man as 50-year-old Steven D. Kinard, brother of Terrence “T-Baby” Kinard.

Hoke said Stevie Kinard gave him lists of items, including computers, video games and kitchen equipment, to locate each day in exchange for OxyContin.

Hoke told police he uses up to ten 80 mg OxyContin pills a day, valued at up to $800. Hoke also reportedly told police he traded stolen property to a man named Daniel I. Heinzen, 23.

Police searched two locations associated with Kinard last week - 16 S. Fiske St and 2503 E. Seventh Ave. (The Seventh Avenue home is where a judge was to allow T-Baby to spend Thanksgiving during a during a five-hour jail furlough.) Heinzen’s home at 1016 E. Montgomery also was searched.

At the Fiske address, deputies arrested Raymond E. Coble, 45, on a felony warrant from the Department of Corrections, along with Kinard on a charge of possession of crack cocaine.

“We recovered multiple TVs, computers and gaming equipment. We also found narcotics, including OxyContin, crack cocaine and methamphetamines,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser.

The thefts occurred at 18 churches in Spokane County, 12 in Spokane and several more in North Idaho.

“Hoke further admitted that he had done several church thefts with his mother until the last month or so when he began doing them on his own,” according to a search warrant.

The scheme fell apart when employees at Mt. Spokane Church called police May 5 and said they’d caught Hoke in the church and believed he was planing a theft. Hoke’s brother, Jeremiah L. Hoke, 26, was with him.

Andy Hoke, who remains in jail, has an eight-year local criminal history that includes convictions for burglary, trafficking stolen property, theft, obstructing a police investigation, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. according to Crime Stopppers.

He, Kinard and Heinzen are to be arraigned May 18.

Photos show OxyContin robbery suspects








Surveillance photos show two men who police believe robbed a Post Falls pharmacy of OxyContin on Sunday.

The men did not display a weapon but handed an employee a threatening note demand the powerful prescription painkiller about 11:10 a.m.

The robbers entered and exited through the front door of Walgreens, 706 E. Seltice Way, and were last seen leaving on foot, police said.

Both men are described as in their late 20s to early 30s.

One suspect has a medium build and round face with a mustache and slight beard, along with short, dark hair. He wore a black baseball hat, wire-framed glasses, a black long-sleeved shirt, dark jeans and white tennis shoes.

The second suspect has a thin build, “pointed features,” dark, trimmed hair, a lsight beard and wore a blue, long-sleeved shirt, tan pants, a brown belt and brown shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Post Falls polite at (208) 773-3517 or (208) 777-COPS. Tips can be submitted anonymously at www.postfallspolice.com.

The same Walgreens was robbed Sept. 30.

‘Snitch’ assailant in robbery case sentenced

A man who helped rob a pharmacy last fall, then threatened a witness, will spend about 11 months in jail.

William E. Higgins, 22, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit first-degree armed burglary and received 11.25 months in jail and 12 months probation. The next day, he received four months in jail after pleading guilty to tampering with a witness and possession of a controlled substance.

Higgins waited in the car as when Ariel A. Arrieta robbed the Rite Aid at 5520 N. Division of OxyContin at gunpoint on Sept. 27. He posted bond but returned to jail March 17 after a witness in the case, Ben Rasmussen, said Higgins punched him and called him a “snitch” in a Deer Park park on March 6.

Rasmussen was charged with first-degree robbery for his alleged role in the heist earlier this month.

Arrieta, 21, pleaded guilty to conspiracy ton commit first-degree robbery and faces 20 to 30 months in prison when sentenced in August.

A fourth defendant, Jed L. Boles, 32. remains in jail.

April 19: Woman, 21, pleads guilty to Oxy robbery

April 14: Robbery tipster now accused of robbery

March 23: Police: Oxy robbery targeted witness

Oct. 19: 2 men sought in Spokane pharmacy robbery

Woman, 21, pleads guilty in armed robbery

A woman arrested in a gunpoint OxyContin robbery at Spokane pharmacy last fall pleaded guilty today.

Ariel A. Arrieta, 21, (right) faces about 20 to 30 months in prison when she’s sentenced in August for conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, said her lawyer, Chris Phelps.

Arrieta and three men were charged for the Sept. 27 holdup at Rite Aid, 5520 N. Division. Arrieta robbed the pharmacy; police say her then-boyfriend, Benjamin K. Rasmussen 19, joined Arrieta, Jed L. Boles, 32, and William E. Higgins, 22, as they drove to the store, then shared in the pill proceeds.

Rasmussen recently pleaded not guilty to a first-degree robbery charge and is not in jail.

Arrieta has been in jail since her arrest Oct 13. Police said she was a suspect in an attempted pill heist that thwarted when a clerk whacked the would-be robbery with a metal bar, but Arrieta was never charged.

Past coverage:

Robbery tipster now accused of robbery

2 men sought in Spokane pharmacy robbery

Warrant looks for bruises on Oxy suspect

Police: Oxy robbery targeted witness

Juror’s cell-phone surfing prompts mistrial

A juror caused a mistrial in a recent Stevens County drug case after he used a cell phone to look up legal information.

Betty Torres will be retried after a judge granted her lawyer’s mistrial motion last week because a juror accessed the Internet from his phone in the jury room to “answer some question about the charge,” according to the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Torres is accused of helping exchange heroin for pills manufactured to look like OxyContin pills.

The trial began Monday. Jurors were preparing to deliberate Tuesday afternoon when the court learned of the juror’s Internet use, Rasmussen said.

“All the effort by the parties and the court and the jury was wasted, as well as the 30 or so persons who had been summoned and from which the jury was chosen,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen wrote about this in his weekly column. Read the column by clicking the link below.

Oxy robbery tipster now accused of robbery

A man who reportedly tipped police to the identities of three suspected pharmacy robbers is now accused of participating in the Sept. 27 incident.

Benjamin K. Rasmussen, 19, pleaded not guilty today to one charge of first-degree robbery.

Police believe he stayed in the car while his girlfriend, Ariel A. Arrieta robbed the Rite Aid at 5520 N. Division (right), then received half the stolen pills, according to new documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

Initial reports said Rasmussen knew of the robbery but did not participate or receive stolen OxyContin pills.

But, as part of a plea bargain, Arrieta, 21, told police in March that Rasmussen joined her, Jed L. Boles, 32, and William E. Higgins, 22, as they drove to the pharmacy, then shared in the pill proceeds.

Higgins, Boles and Arrieta remain in jail on robbery charges. Rasmussen was booked today but then released on his own recognizance.

Higgins also is charged with second-degree assault and witness intimidation for an alleged attack against Rasmussen in a Deer Park park on March 6. Higgins is accused of punching Rasmussen and calling him a “snitch.”

Past coverage:

2 men sought in Spokane pharmacy robbery.

Warrant looks for bruises on Oxy suspect.

Police: Oxy robbery targeted witness.

Police: Oxy robbery suspect targeted witness

A Spokane man accused of helping a woman rob a pharmacy last fall is suspected of threatening a witness in the case.

William E. Higgins pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault and intimidating a witness today in Spokane County Superior Court. He’s been in jail since March 17, accused of punching a man who helped detectives identify suspects in the Sept. 27 robbery at Rite Aid, 5520 N. Division.

Higgins, who turned 22 today,  is charged with first-degree robbery for allegedly helping 20-year-old Ariel A. Arrieta rob that store of OxyContin.

He was out of jail on $10,00 bond but rearrested after witnesses said he attacked the man in a Deer Park park on March 6 and called him a “snitch.” Police already were aware of threatening phone calls Higgins made to the man, according to court documents.

Higgins remains in jail on $20,000 bond.

Past coverage:

2 men sought in Spokane pharmacy robbery

Warrant looks for bruises on Oxy suspect.

Wigged OxyContin robber gets 13 months

A man who donned a black wig to rob two Spokane pharmacies of OxyContin last year donned a jail jumpsuit today after he was sentenced to about a year in prison.

Dustin J. Rockstrom, 26, was taken into custody after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 13 months in prison and ordered to seek drug addiction treatment.

Rockstrom wore a black wig (pictured above) when he robbed the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St on Aug. 24, then the Rite Aid across the street on Sept. 5.

Police found that wig when they raided in apartment rented by Rockstrom’s alleged getaway driver, Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28. Weyrauch is in jail awaiting trial. Rockstrom had been out on bond.

Weyrauch’s former roommate, Dalen J. McMillon, 27, is wanted on drug dealing charges connected to an OxyContin ring police believe was operating out of their apartment at 903 S. Adams.

Anyone with information on McMillon’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Past coverage:

Alleged robber’s roomie accused of Oxy dealing

Searching for robber, police find possible Oxy ring

Another charge for Oxy robbery suspect

Suspect’s roomie accused of selling Oxy

The former roommate of a man charged with robbing two pharmacies for OxyContin last fall is accused of selling the drug but hasn’t been located by police.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Dalen J. McMillon, 27.

McMillon (right) is wanted on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance for alleged transactions with a confidential informant on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. Charges were filed Jan. 28; Crime Stoppers issued a reward for his capture on Monday.

McMillon was with Aaron M. Weyrauch, 28, and Dustin J. Rockstrom, 27, when officers arrested them Sept. 15 on robbery charges for OxyContin heists Aug. 24 at the Shopko at 4515 S. Regal St, and Sept. 5 at the Rite Aid across the street, 4514 S. Regal St.

Police found a wig thought to have been worn by Rockstrom in the robberies in an apartment McMillon and Weyrauch shared at 903 S. Adams, along with pills, drug paraphernalia and suspected heroin, according to court documents.

Weyrauch is in jail; Rockstrom is out on $30,000 bond.

Anyone with information on McMillon’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

Past coverage:

Searching for robber, police find possible Oxy ring

Another charge for Oxy robbery suspect

Serial robber gets 10 years in prison

A 20-year-old man who as a teenager terrorized Spokane payday loan stores in a drug-fueled armed robbery spree was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

Before Zachary T. Allen apologized for his crimes, family members described a sweet boy with a bright future who lost his way to the prescription drug OxyContin.

“I sincerely wish everyone had a chance to know Zach like I know him, before the bad influence of people and drugs,” said his older sister, Kiley Allen.

Testimony from Allen’s family came after a court official read a prepared statement from a clerk was so terrorized by Allen that she quit her job at a north Spokane payday loan center and has reoccurring nightmares.

“In my dream, I didn’t make it out of the situation alive,” Jennifer Counts wrote.

Allen’s robberies came at the height of Spokane’s OxyContin-fueled crimes –which has included dozens of robberies by mostly young men with no criminal records.

He and his then-girlfriend, Kimberley A. Norman, went on a month-long robbery spree in January 2009 that led some stores to lock their doors and demand customers to show identification before entering. Even then, Allen tried robbing one of the businesses – screaming and banging on the door as the clerk hid.

The two were arrested Feb. 6, 2009, after police detectives identified them through confidential informants, high school yearbooks and MySpace postings, according to court documents.

“You made some choices that horrified this community and terrified this community,” said Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno before approving a plea deal Wednesday that sends Allen to prison for 129 months.

Read the rest of my story: Serial robber sentenced to 10 years

Previous coverage:

Robbery spree haunts clerks, prosecutor says

OxyContin robberies will continue, police fear

Measures aim to halt hold ups

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