Local news

Judicial appointee helps track suspect

Nominee to federal bench was victim of residential burglary

An assistant U.S. attorney and appointee for a federal judgeship helped identify a suspect in a string of South Hill burglaries by tracking his wife’s stolen coffee shop card.

Tom Rice, who is awaiting congressional confirmation to replace former U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley, was in bed when Nathan Daniel Moore, 30, allegedly burglarized his home Nov. 23.

His wife, Heather Rice, that morning noticed her purse and wallet missing, which contained a Starbucks debit card.

Rice contacted Starbucks and learned the card had been used at a store in Airway Heights. Police in turn obtained key evidence against Moore: the store had surveillance video that captured him using Rice’s card.

Moore contacted police after seeing news reports with the photo and said he’d found the card in a field, but police soon arrested him on burglary charges.

He posted $20,000 bond Dec. 6 but was arrested again Thursday after Spokane police Detective Bryan Tafoya completed an investigation that tied Moore to several burglaries of South Hill businesses. Prosecutors were awaiting the police investigation before filing charges against Moore, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith.

Documents completed by Tafoya on Friday allege Moore burglarized seven South Hill business on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2: Chevron Lube Tube, 2815 E. 30th Ave.; Hair Works, 2930 E. 29th; A Sewing Shop, 2817 E. 30th Ave.; Beautiful Lashes, 2819 E. 30th Ave.; Miller’s Hardware, 2908 E. 29th Ave.; Ace Hardware, 4416 S. Regal St.; and Twigs Bistro, 4320 S. Regal St.

He’s also accused of causing between $3,000 and $4,000 in damaged and missing food during a burglary at Savory restaurant, 1314 S. Grand Blvd., around Nov. 30.

Surveillance video at Chevron, Savory and Miller’s hardware show a burglar who matches Moore’s description, police say.

Rice could not be reached for comment Friday.

Prosecutors on Friday called Moore a danger to the community and cited his “continuing criminal activity” when calling for a $100,000 bond, which refers to a Dec. 12 citation for running a stop sign and possession of marijuana.

Moore is cooperating with police and is not accused of committing any burglaries following his Dec. 5 arrest, public defender Tim Trageser said.

Trageser cited the fact that prosecutors have yet to formally charge Moore.

“Obviously, if it was that important in terms of community safety, I would think they would have filed (charges),” Trageser said.

Smith said late Friday afternoon that he had not yet received Tafoya’s investigation, which he will review before bringing charges. Moore will be released from jail if charges aren’t filed within three days of him being booked into jail, which occurred Thursday about 8 p.m.

Judge Annette Plese imposed another $20,000 bond. Moore will reside at his mother’s house in the 3700 block of South Gandy Street, if he leaves jail, which is where he lived when dozens of burglaries were reported in the neighborhood in November and early December. Police searched the home after Moore’s arrest in December and found property that was suspected stolen. They believe Moore was selling stolen items on Craigslist or eBay.

After Moore posted bond last month, Tafoya cautioned him against committing further burglaries because it was only a matter of time “until any would-be burglar was confronted by a homeowner or business owner and the suspect was shot or the homeowner was injured,” Tafoya wrote in court documents.

“Moore lowered his head, seemed to consider the information, then nodded his head in the affirmative,” Tafoya wrote.

Tafoya completed the investigation this week, and patrol Officer Sean Wheeler arrested Moore at Tafoya’s request.

In addition to burglary charges, Moore faces three counts of second-degree possession of stolen property for stolen financial cards, including Rice’s wife’s Starbucks card.

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