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Valley men plead not guilty in smoke-detector case

Wed., May 14, 2008

A father and son from Spokane Valley, accused of a $1.7 million fraud in worldwide sales of wireless smoke detectors, were arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

James “Jimmy” Jensen, 63, and his son, Ryan Jensen, 34, both entered not guilty pleas to a 32-count indictment returned April 24, accusing them of wire and mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to violate federal laws.

Their cases were assigned to Senior U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush for trial.

A trial date has not been set.

Similar white-collar crime cases usually take a year or more to get to trial or resolve with plea bargains.

Jensen and his son both asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno for court-appointed attorneys – a request she granted after examining financial disclosure forms submitted to the court by the defendants.

Both men voluntarily appeared for the brief arraignment.

“The government is not requesting detention,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Bolton told the court.

“We have no concern about flight,” the prosecutor added, saying both men have spent most of their lives in the Spokane area.

The judge agreed to release both men without bond.

The indictment alleges they marketed and sold wireless smoke and gas detectors through a Spokane Valley company called Innotek, at 11616 E. Montgomery Ave.

The company falsely claimed its wireless detectors were approved by Underwriters Laboratories or another product-safety company known as ETL, the indictment says.

The federal charges grew out of a lengthy joint investigation by the FBI and IRS.

The indictment accuses the defendants of making “materially false and fraudulent statements to investors concerning Innotek’s products and business operations.”

Investors also weren’t told that Jimmy Jensen was convicted in 1999 and served a prison term for his role in a similar scheme in the 1990s that bilked investors out of $8 million.

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