May 28, 2010 in City
Appearance on TV nets charges for Spokane man
Victim recognizes suspect on ‘Judge Judy,’ police say
An appearance on the TV reality show “Judge Judy” has brought a Spokane man more than just 15 minutes of syndicated fame.
Joshua J. Mulvey, 26, now faces new criminal charges in an Internet fraud scheme after a Snohomish County man who saw the episode recognized Mulvey as the same person who conned him out of $2,500 last year, police say.
Mulvey appeared Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, where the new theft charges were added to the 10 counts he was charged with in February after investigators unraveled what they described as an elaborate con game that preyed on people responding to bogus Craigslist postings advertising cars for sale.
Mulvey appeared on the courtroom drama within the last two years with his ex-girlfriend, who he was suing for repayment on a car he said he sold to help her financially. But the show’s host, former family court judge Judith Sheindlin, was unsympathetic. She concluded Mulvey had fraudulently sold the car and ruled in the ex’s favor.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we try to deceive,” Sheindlin said. “Goodbye Mr. Mulvey; from this court you get nothing. You’re a con man.”
The criminal case against Mulvey broke last fall when Washington State Patrol Detective-Sergeant E.J. Swainson, who used to work in Spokane, recognized the reported Craigslist scheme as likely being the work of Mulvey, whom he investigated a few years ago in a theft case tied to street racing.
Swainson told a Snohomish County investigator about Mulvey’s “Judge Judy” appearance, who instructed the alleged victim, Kyle Delfel, to watch the episode.
In the TV show, which is available on the Internet, Mulvey identified himself as a 24-year-old full-time student at Spokane Falls Community College who lived with his father. Delfel told police he was “100 percent” sure Mulvey was the man who conned him.
“Delfel mentioned the subject’s tone of voice, speech patterns and speed of speech were all exactly similar to the subject he’d spoken with on the phone,” according to court documents. “He was particularly struck by Mulvey’s explanation on ‘Judge Judy’ of how he obtained a motor, stating Mulvey spoke in the exact same manner on the phone with him (Delfel.)”
Mulvey has been in jail since his arrest in February at a Coeur d’Alene motel. He’s already charged with more than 10 felonies, including identity theft, malicious mischief and theft.
Mulvey, the son of longtime Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Ronald Mulvey, served time in prison for a 2004 investigation in which, detectives said, a group used Internet fraud to obtain stolen car parts to make its vehicles fast for street racing. He has 18 felony convictions.
Investigators in that case described Mulvey as a “genius” who had the talent to work for government intelligence agencies but used his smarts to con sellers into shipping him cars and parts without paying first.
His bail was set Thursday at $25,000 on two counts of second-degree theft and third-degree theft. That’s in addition to $50,000 for the new charges.
Mulvey was attacked in the jail in late April and suffered a fractured bone in his face and briefly lost consciousness, jail deputies said. Convicted killer Matthew T. Shope, 19, has been charged with first-degree assault.