September 3, 2010 in City

Detention sought in federal weapons case

Prosecutors say man is dangerous criminal and high flight risk
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

An alleged identity theft scheme by a white supremacist who federal prosecutors describe as a “perpetual criminal” was dismantled this week across the Spokane area.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 52, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting a decision from U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno on whether he can be released pending trial on a federal weapons charge.

The judge is expected to rule by noon today after a hearing Thursday in which prosecutors called Kurt a dangerous criminal who flees police and is skilled at counterfeiting identification materials.

“No matter what you tell this defendant, he is not going to comply with court orders,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks. “He has never complied with court orders.”

Kurt’s lawyer, Pete Schweda, pointed out that Kurt successfully completed three years of federal probation with just one reprimand.

Kurt was arrested Monday on a warrant charging him with unlawfully possessing two assault rifles and a handgun. He also recently used fake identification to open a post office box in north Spokane, then used the identity to place an order with a gun and ammo store in Kentucky over the Internet, Hicks said in court Thursday. Authorities have not said what Kurt purchased.

An FBI agent testified in court Thursday that because of Kurt’s criminal history and penchant for guns, he didn’t give the suspect chance to surrender.

“I tackled him, rolled him over, and placed him in the vehicle,” said FBI agent Joseph Cleary. “I did not want him to get in his vehicle and drive away.”

Kurt has fled law enforcement many times and once rammed a police vehicle, then tried escaping federal custody by removing screws from a jail cell window, Hicks said. He’s also one of the few people with a federal conviction for failing to appear in court in the Eastern District of Washington.

The arrest is the latest for a convicted currency counterfeiter whose experience with the criminal justice system dates back to at least 1988, when he was acquitted of murder in Snohomish County.

He was under investigation for counterfeiting when he removed a government tracking device from his car in 2004, then hid it in a storage unit he’d rented under a fake identification, Hicks said.

Kurt was sentenced to 18 months for theft of government property and completed three years probation. His only probation violation came in April 2009 when he contacted a jailed white supremacist leader and convicted felon. He’d been prohibited from contacting felons.

“This defendant has been a perpetual, persistent criminal who had endangered the public,” Hicks said. “When he was not in prison he was out committing new crimes.”

Authorities have not released details about the investigation but say they searched at least two locations Tuesday in connection with Kurt’s case, including Lance Pounder Excavation, 2611 E. Lincoln Road, where Kurt has lived.

He was charged with possession of guns on Aug. 21, but the investigation is ongoing. Hicks submitted photographs of counterfeit driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and an application to receive mail that Kurt completed using a false name.

When federal agents searched his home in 2004, they recovered at least 24 counterfeit Social Security cards, 24 counterfeit driver’s licenses and 21 counterfeit employment cards, said John Neirninckx, a former Secret Service agent who investigated the case.

Each license had Kurt’s photo but a different name, Neirninckx said.

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