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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: plea deals

Ex-social worker pleads guilty to child porn

A man who once licensed foster care homes for the state pleaded guilty Friday to two federal counts of distribution of child pornography.

Darrell J. Rogers, who was 51 when he was arrested in April, was indicted following a search of his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail neighborhood of Spokane.

Rogers admitted using Internet file sharing programs to obtain the pornography, including images of children as young as months old, and denied that he ever inappropriately touched children.

His attorney Matthew Campbell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks agreed on a sentencing recommendation of five years in federal prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush set the sentencing for Nov. 13 at 10 a.m.

Hicks said the material federal agents downloaded from Rogers is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

Plea hinges on murder trial testimony

A 20-year-old woman originally charged with a death penalty eligible crime for the brutal murder of a Spokane man faces 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years in prison if she follows a plea agreement approved today.

Breeanna C. Sims (pictured left) is to testify at the trial of accused killer Taylor J. Wolf (pictured right), which is scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

Sims, who was involved in a home-invasion robbery with her mother in 2009, pleaded guilty today to first-degree kidnapping with a firearm. Her plea agreement is sealed and hinges on her future testimony.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza today approved the plea deal negotiated by Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and Deputy Public Defender Tom Trageser. Sims backed out of a potential plea in May.

Sims' brother, Justice E.D. Sims (pictured left), was sentenced in March to about 33 years in prison for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

The three are accused of the brutal torture slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson (pictured right), who was found dead in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13, 2011.

Detectives say Wolf made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial Sept. 4.

Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded jailhouse phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

All three suspects were charged with aggravated first-degree murder. The charge is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors said from the beginning they would not be seeking that.

Justice Sims is serving his sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Breeanna Sims will stay at the Spokane County Jail without bail. Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled as prosecutors await Wolf's trial.

Thoreson's family and friends attended Sims plea hearing today, including his girlfriend and toddler son.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20, 2011: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3, 2011: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21, 2011: New details released in Forker Road homicide

3 Oregon men admit to Idaho pot grow

   Three Oregon men have pleaded guilty to growing large amounts of marijuana in Boundary County, Idaho.

Robert Wayne Baucum, 56, of Scio (left), Ronald Clifford Underwood (right), 55, and Raymond Earl Hogle, 50 (bottom left), both of Albany, grew marijuana in barns on property owned by Baucum in Naples, Idaho, from 2004 to 2011.

Hogle pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in April. Baucum and Underwood pleaded guilty this week in Coeur d'Alene.

The men are to be sentenced July 17.

Co-defendants Justin Egner of Springfield, Ore., and Charles Goodenough of Willow, Alaska, are set for trial on July 17.

The case was investigated by the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Linn County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon), and the Alaska State Troopers.

Plea agreements and all other documents that might give details on the investigation have been sealed.

Tipster claims reward in Cowell murder

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A man who wrote a letter pointing to Christopher Scott Wilson as the suspect in a Wenatchee slaying is claiming a reward of up to $38,000.

Theo A. Keyes wrote a letter to police telling them that Wilson (pictured) had once begun choking another girl. That led officers to take a DNA sample that linked him to the death of Mackenzie Cowell, a beauty school classmate.

The body of the 17-year-old was found along the Columbia River in February 2010 near Crescent Bar. She had been struck in the head, strangled and stabbed to death.

Wilson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal and was sentenced May 23 to 14 years in prison.

The Wenatchee World reports (http://is.gd/xgnVFc ) the 32-year-old Keyes has already received a $2,000 reward from Cowell's mother.

Beauty school killer gets 14+ years

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A Wenatchee man accused of killing a beauty school classmate pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in a plea deal Wednesday and was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison.

Jury selection had been under way for the trial of Christopher Scott Wilson, 31, who was charged with first-degree murder in the February 2010 death of 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Wilson also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, as well as second-degree assault on another woman, under the plea deal.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges sentenced Wilson to 171 months.

Bridges noted the toll the case took on the entire community in Wenatchee, an agricultural city that boasts itself as the “Apple Capital of the World.” Police investigated the killing for seven months, interviewing more than 800 people, before arresting Wilson for Cowell's murder.

It's almost impossible to find the words for the family of the victim, the family of the defendant or the community, Bridges said.

“It's just too bad for all of us, but I wanted you to know we're all kind of in this together,” he said. “So, Mr. Wilson is going to prison.”

Wilson showed no emotion during the hearing. Before the trial began, he had rejected a 10-year plea offer.

Reid Cowell, the victim's father, recalled a young, vibrant girl who trusted Wilson and allowed him to lure her to her death.

Cowell was a high school senior and dance team member who also studied at the Academy of Hair Design on weekday afternoons. On the afternoon of Feb. 9, 2010, she told classmates she would only be gone 15 minutes, and surveillance video later showed her walking to her car and driving away.

Police found her abandoned vehicle 5 miles away on a rural road. Four days later, Cowell's body was found on the edge of the Columbia River, some 20 miles south of Wenatchee.

She had been struck in the head, strangled and stabbed to death.

During the investigation, three people reported seeing a person closely matching Wilson's description walking down the road near where Cowell's car had been abandoned. DNA found on duct tape near Cowell's body was linked to Wilson and her DNA was linked to blood found in his apartment.

According to court documents, several people also contacted police with concerns about Wilson after Cowell disappeared. One person wrote a letter to police claiming Wilson was obsessed with dead bodies and serial killers. Another said Wilson told her he liked to “cut people up” when he was working at area funeral homes.

However, a judge barred prosecutors from introducing that work history — or mentioning his tattoo of fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter — at trial, and ruled that the defense may introduce evidence of other suspects.

Prosecutor Gary Riesen said the loss of a 17-year-old girl isn't something one can put a value on in the criminal justice system.

“It's a case where the result of today's hearing probably won't be satisfactory to anyone,” he said in court, “but I think it does bring some closure.”

Murder suspect chooses trial over deal

A woman charged in connection with the 2011 killing of Nicholas J. Thoreson appeared in court but chose not to accept a plea agreement.

 Breeanna C. Sims, 20, faces the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rendering criminal assistance, arson and the taking of a motor vehicle.

Sims appeared Wednesday before Superior Court Sam Cozza but the hearing did not proceed.

“It appears we don't have a meeting of the minds,” Deputy Prosecutor Kyle Treece said. “If we have a plea agreement at some point, we will notify the court.”

Reached after the hearing, defense attorney Tim Trageser said “we're going to trial,” which is currently set for June 18.

Sims was charged with her younger brother, Justice E.D. Sims, 19, who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Also charged are Taylor J. Wolf and Britney Bjork. Their cases also are pending.

Detectives believe the Simses and Wolf beat Thoreson in a garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley before shooting him to death. 

Thoreson's charred remains were found in the back of his 1987 Ford Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13, 2011. Detectives arrested the Simses two days later.P

ast coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released in Forker Road homicide


  

St. Maries woman admits killing uncle

A North Idaho woman who killed her uncle and burned his body has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Melisa R. Bates, 28, is to be sentenced May 18 for the murder of Robert D. Marek, 43, last May at his home eight miles south of St. Maries, where Bates had been staying.

Bates originally was charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced as part of a plea deal approved Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Bates shot Marek with a handgun before beating him with a metal rod, Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said.

She underwent a psychological evaluation that declared her to fit to stand trial.

Man, 20, gets 15 years for ‘07 murder

A 20-year-old man arrested for a 2007 murder was sentenced recently to 15 years in prison.

Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead (right) also was ordered to pay $6,651 restitution after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the Nov. 12, 2007, shooting death of Daniel Burgess, 30.

Burgess was killed while in the living room of a home at 2413 N. Dakota Ave.

Martin-Armstead, his girlfriend, Jaleesa D. Anderson, 22; and her brother, Marc A. Anderson, 20 (left), each were charged with a single count of first-degree murder. Martin-Armstead's charge was reduced as part of a plea deal.

The Andersons, who are out of jail on bond, are scheduled to go to trial in June.

Martin-Armstead was arrested Oct. 24 after an informant told police he'd implicated himself in the murder during conversations at the jail in May and June 2008.

Teen gets 33+ years for torture slaying

A 19-year-old Spokane man was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison recently for his role in the murder and kidnapping of a 22-year-old man whose burned body was found in the back of a car last year.

Justice E. D. Sims, 19, (left) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping Friday in connection to the slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson, who was found dead in the trunk of his Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13.

  Detectives believe Sims, his sister Breeanna C. Sims, 20, and Taylor J. Wolf, 21, brutally beat Thoreson (right) in a garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley. Sims then fatally shot Thoreson.

In addition to 400 months in prison, Sims was ordered to pay $5,268 restitution.

Wolf is scheduled to begin trial Aug. 20. Breeanna Sims is scheduled to begin trial April 2.

Detectives say Wolf (left) made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial April 16 and is represented by Chris Bugbee.

Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Sims originally was charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty, and the charge was amended to first-degree murder as part of a plea deal.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault in January and was credited for a day already spent in jail and given two years probation.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released in Forker Road homicide

No death penalty for racist double killer

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of his father and stepmother after a prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty.

David”Joey” Pedersen, 31, is set to be sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole, the only other possible sentence, The Daily Herald reported (http://is.gd/oCxIAI ).

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe has not yet announced a decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Pedersen's girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, 28, who also was charged with aggravated murder in the September killings of 56-year-old David “Red” Pedersen and 69-year-old Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen.

The prosecutor said he declined to pursue the death sentence for Joey Pederson after police turned up significant and credible evidence that his father had sexually abused his children and others decades ago. Joey Pedersen said the abuse was the reason he chose to kill his father.

Joey Pedersen and Grigsby, who have white supremacist ties, also are accused of killing 19-year-old Cody Myers in western Oregon because his name sounded Jewish, and Reginald Clark near Eureka, Calif., because he was black. Those crimes potentially could result in federal prosecution because of civil rights issues.

Red Pedersen was shot once in the back of the head while he drove the suspects to a bus station in Everett after a visit. His son was accused of firing the fatal shot. Investigators believe the suspects then returned to the couple's home to kill DeeDee Pedersen.

Investigators found her bound with duct tape with her throat slashed. The evidence suggests Grigsby wielded the knives, court papers said.

DeeDee Pedersen was not married to Red Pederson (pictured right) at the time of the alleged child abuse and was in no position to prevent or even know about it, Roe said.

Family members of the victims did not agree with the prosecutor's decision against seeking the death penalty, even though Roe said it would have been appropriate.

“They were disappointed, but I believe understand my decision and my reasons for it,” Roe said in a statement.

Joey Pedersen was an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter. He grew up in Salem, Ore, and spent more than half of his life in prison, including an 11-year stint for threatening to murder a federal judge in Idaho. He was released in May.

After the homicides, investigators said he and Grigsby drove to Oregon in Red Pedersen's Jeep and ditched the vehicle with the slain man still inside off a logging road. Authorities believe they crossed paths with Cody Myers, who had left home to attend a jazz festival near the Oregon coast. Myers, a devout Christian, turned up dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators believe the couple continued to Eureka, where Clark, a disabled black man, was killed.

The suspects were arrested Oct. 5 north of Sacramento.

ast coverage:

Feb. 12: Murder spree suspeect wants Coco Puffs

Oct. 10: 4th victim identified in alleged murder spree

Oct. 6: Racist in murder spree threatened to kill Idaho judge

Oct. 5: Couple in NW. manhunt arrested in Calif.

Oct. 5: Body found in manhunt may be that of teen

Man guilty in Bayview hammer murder

In this Sept. 30 photo, Bayview hammer attack vicitm Yvonne Wallis says she wants Larry Cragun to receive the death penalty for the attack. (SR/Kathy Plonka)

A North Idaho man who bludgeoned four people with a hammer in a brutal murder in Bayview last year has pleaded guilty.

 Larry Ward Cragun, 32, faces a mandatory life sentence with possible eligibility for parole after 10 years when he’s sentenced in May, Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Friday.

McHugh said he’ll recommend Cragun serve 40 years before he’s eligible for parole.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 23, 2011: Bayview victim: 'I'm just an invalid'

Dec. 20, 2010: 1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

7 assault charges reduced in plea deal

A man who fired several gunshots into a house, narrowly missing two toddlers, after a 2009 dispute over a dog accepted a plea bargain Monday that called for 60 days in jail, which he’s already served.

Lucas J. Merrill, 28, had faced seven counts of first-degree assault in a case that previously had been negotiated down to two misdemeanors by Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. However, a District Court judge in November refused to approve the deal after Tucker declined a request to appear in court and explain the reduction in the severity of the charges against Merrill.

Instead, Merrill pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of third-degree assault, said his defense attorney, Tom Krzyminski. Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza sentenced Merrill to 60 days in jail and gave him credit for 60 days. Third-degree assault is the lowest felony level of that offense.

“I think it’s disappointing that he was not placed in Veterans Court. But it seemed there were too many roadblocks for that,” Krzyminski said.

In November, District Court Judge Debra Hayes questioned whether the plea agreement would put a federal grant that helps pay for Veterans Court in danger if she agreed to reduce the seven felonies to two misdemeanors. “This is about as close to a murder case as I’ve seen as a felony reduction,” Hayes said during a hearing on Nov. 14.

The charges stemmed from an incident in the fall of 2009 when Merrill and his roommate, Brock Woodson, believed that the neighboring Gertlar family had either poisoned or injured their dog. Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in court that Merrill got very drunk and shot at the Gertlars’ home, which had seven people inside.

According to court records, bullets just missed two toddlers who were sleeping in the front room. The Gertlars, who indicated they weren’t happy with the previous plea bargain, did not attend the Monday sentencing, Krzyminski said.

Originally from Colville, Merrill served eight years in the military including two tours in Iraq. He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder and has suffered traumatic brain injury, Krzyminski said at an earlier hearing.

The case file included a letter submitted by Karen Gertlar who said the shooting “has affected our lifestyle and ability to live a safe and normal life. By someone’s careless act, we are constantly in fear and all of us have re-occurring nightmares,” Gertlar wrote.

Spokane man guilty in Plummer murder

A Spokane man has been convicted of second-degree murder for a fatal stabbing in Plummer, Idaho, last year.

Jody Allen Miller, 40, (left) entered an Alford plea this morning in Benewah County District Court for the April 17 murder of Antowyn D. “Tony” Swiney, 37, (right) the St. Maries Gazette Record reports.

He faces 25 years in prison when he's sentenced April 13. The plea means he does not admit guilty but acknowledges there was enough evidence to convict him.

Miller stabbed Swiney to death at Swiney's girlfiend's home in Plummer after Swiney left a Spokane bar to avoid a confrontation.

Irael Kennedy (right) pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in October and is to be sentenced next month.  

Stephen Milton and Kennedy's mother, Kelly A. Miller, pleaded guilty to felony criminal accessory charges in August.

Past coverage:

May 25: Boy says he witnessed Plummer murder

April 23: Romantic tie figures in murder case

Guilty plea halts ‘life is a bitch’ jury trial

A last-minute plea deal has halted a trial for a Spokane man accused of intimidating a public servant for a courthouse outburst at a deputy prosecutor.

Roland W. Finney, 36, (pictured) pleaded guilty to riot today in Spokane County Superior Court and was sentenced to six months in jail. He'll be credited for 59 days already served.

Sixty prospective jurors and a visiting judge were at the courthouse today for what was to be the start of Finney's trial.

Finney was accused of intimidating Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla on Aug. 30, 2010, after Cipolla refiled drug-related charges against him that had earlier been dismissed.

Cipolla said Finney 'threatened to take me outside and ‘kick my ass,’ ” according to court documents. “The threats continued to escalate including killing my wife, ‘Life is a bitch, you marry one and then she dies’ and that I had better watch out,” Cipolla wrote.

In response, Finney's lawyer, Kari Reardon, wrote: “The truth of the matter is that for some, life is a bitch. Further, everybody dies.” She said her client's statements didn't constitute threats against Cipolla.

Retired Ferry County Judge Rebecca Baker and Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull were called in to handle the case.

Finney pleaded guilty today before jury selection proceedings began, thus ending any possibility of Reardon cross examining Cipolla.

Kevin Harpham sentenced to 32 years

Leaving a bomb laced with anti-coagulant along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Day Unity March was merely a “creative idea” to protest multiculturalism, domestic terrorist Kevin W. Harpham told a Spokane judge Tuesday.

The explanation was an 11th-hour bid by Harpham, an admitted white supremacist, to withdraw his guilty plea and face trial.

But an unsympathetic U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush told Harpham, “It’s beyond my comprehension that you would stand there and not accept responsibility for what you have done,” then sentenced the 37-year-old to 32 years in federal prison. It was the

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

5 women plead guilty in fake cash scam

Five of 10 people indicted in a counterfeit money scheme have pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.

Jessica A. Crabtree, 28; Brittney R. Hearn, 24; Robin Knuttgen, 52; Brandy Mueller, age 22; and  Melissa A. Smith, 27, faces up to 20 years in prison and three years probation after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court.
The women were involved in a scheme to to bleach real money and reprint the paper with higher denominations. About $5,000 in fake currency was passed. Local businesses and banks alerted the Secret Service to the scheme.

Also charged is Cole T. Monson, the so-called “nemesis of property owners” already in prison for dozens of property crimes, Ronald Dale Mueller; Tawny M. Rhodes, Angela Olveda and Sean Wright.

The suspects were indicted by a grand jury in June.

Crabtree, Hearn, Knuttgen, Mueller and Smith are scheduled to be sentenced in January and March.

“Well-trained merchants are the first line of defense to this form of fraud. Using Secret Service’s training, a merchant can prevent thousands of dollars in losses that end up in the form of higher prices for the rest of us,” U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby said in a prepared statement.

Said Kevin Miller, resident agent in charge of the local Secret Service office said, “Businesses and consumers should be extra vigilant during the busy holiday shopping season. Genuine Federal Reserve Notes have several security features that include small randomly disbursed blue and red fibers embedded throughout the paper, a watermark (similar to the portrait) that is visible from either side of the note when held up to the light, color shifting ink in the lower right-hand corner, and a clear polyester security thread embedded vertically in the paper which is inscribed with the denomination of the note.”

Ex-bank manager admits $400k theft

A North Idaho woman who embezzled from the bank she worked at for more than a decade has been ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

Mary A. Head, 58, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution.

Head faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene. She is not in custody.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to a grand jury indictment filed in March.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling money.

Pot dispensers face 2-6 mos. in prison

Charles Wright gives a quick thumbs up to chanting cannabis activists outside medical marijuana dispensary during a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 28. Wright faces six months in federal prison when he's sentenced in February. (SRPhoto/Jesse Tinsley)

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov.Lincoln Chafee's call for federal authorities to legalize medical marijuana comes just after raids on medical marijuana operations in the Seattle area.

It also comes after two medical marijuana dispensers arrested in Spokane raids pleads guilty to federal drug charges.

Charles Wesley Wright, 41, is to be sentenced on Feb. 21 and Jon Richard Vivian, 31, is to be sentenced on Feb. 13.

Vivian's plea agreement, filed on Nov. 7, calls for him to self-report to federal prison to begin a two-month sentence. He'll be on home confinement for six months and will be on probation for two years, according to the agreement. Vivian is to complete drug testing and treatment as his probation officers directs, and his home, person, office, vehicle and belongings are subject to search.

Wright's plea agreement, filed Nov. 22, calls for him to serve six months in federal prison followed by six months and one day of home confinement. He'll also self report to prison and will be on probation for two years and subject to the same conditions as Vivian, assuming a judge goes along with the sentencing recommendations.

Vivian and Wright each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Prosecutors dismissed stiffer charges of distribution of marijuana near a school, possession with intent to distribute marijuana near a school, manufacture of marijuana near a school and maintaining a drug-involved premise near a school, where were filed in July as part of a grand jury indictment.

According to the plea agreements, DEA Agent Sam Keiser bought marijuana and clone marijuana plants from Wright and Vivian's THC Pharmacy on April 19 while working undercover. Keiser had a state medical marijuana authorization that employees verified, but federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana.

DEA agents raided the business on April 28 and seized bottles of marijuana, 36 plants and $12,706. Vivian told police THC Pharmacy had 1,076 “patients,” 300 of whom were regulars.

The raid came after federal authorities warned more than 40 dispensaries in the area to shut down or face prosecution. Most complied; only a handful were raided.

Also facing federal charges are Medical Herb Providers owners Jerry Wayne Laberdee and Dennis Lewis Whited. Their charges have not yet been resolved.

Judge accepts MLK bomb plea deal

A federal judge has accepted the guilty plea of Kevin W. Harpham for leaving a bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March last January in downtown Spokane.

In accepting the plea, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush will now determine at Nov. 30 sentencing how much time the 37-year-old Colville area resident will serve in prison. He faces a range of about 27 to 32 years.

Harpham pleaded guilty in September to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to injure people in a hate crime.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

In preperation for Harpham's sentencing, the Spokane Crime Victim Service Center is seeking public input for a description of the crime’s impact on the community, which will be read by Quackenbush. Read more here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Hate site postings reveal Harpham's views

Bike-riding bank robbery gets 17 years

A bicycle-riding bank robber responsible for nine gunpoint heists in Spokane is to spend 17 years in prison and repay $150,118.59.

 Lucas G. Woodard, 34, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison after being sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Woodard robbed nine banks between December 2009 and October 2010, when he was arrested after fleeing a Washington Trust Bank branch at 1906 W. Francis Ave.

Spokane police Sgt. Jason Hartman, who was driving home from work, heard radio traffic about a bank robbery, saw Woodard fleeing the scene and steered his patrol vehicle into the path of Woodard’s bicycle.

When Woodard fell to the ground, a Glock 9 MM semi-automatic pistol and some rounds of ammunition fell out of his backpack.

Hartman later received department commendations for his actions.

 Before his arrest, Woodard had no criminal record, was employed at Woodard Construction and was reportedly a regular at Maggie's South Hill Grill.

 

He lived alone in a rental home on High Drive on the South Hill. After his arrest, he thanked federal agents “for treating him well, explaining that…because of what he did, he could have been treated poorly,” according to court documents.

Woodard admitted that although he had a gun, he would never have used it. Woodard also stated that he was a ‘gentle guy’ apart from the robberies that he committed.”

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