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Deputies arrest man, pay for hotel for suspect’s stranded mother

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 43-year-old robbery suspect Monday night, then used one officer’s own credit card to put up the man’s stranded mother at a nearby hotel.

Deputies Joe Bodman, Jacob Spitzer and Nathan Bohanek arrested Harley Smerz and booked him into jail shortly after 11 p.m. Monday. Witnesses reported Smerz entered the Dollar Tree store at 9211 E. Montgomery Ave. around 8:30 p.m., where he asked for a bottle of water then grabbed cash from the register during the transaction. He then fled the scene in a Ford station wagon.

Bohanek caught up to Smerz shortly after the call. When he stopped the car, he recognized Smerz from the witness description. In the passenger seat was an older woman who said she was Smerz’s mother. She said the two were traveling to Idaho Falls to look for a job for Smerz, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. She also told officers the two had been asking for fuel money during the trip.

Dollar Tree employees were brought to the station wagon and identified Smerz. The stolen money was returned to the store, and the rest of the money Smerz carried was given to his mother. Deputies then took the woman to a hotel and paid for her lodging with a personal credit card, according to the news release.

The hotel refunded the deputy’s money and offered the woman two free nights of lodging, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Smerz was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

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