A second wave of shoplifting charges has been filed against a former Colville newspaper editor and Western Washington political operative who was previously tied to a Snohomish County campaign scandal.
Kevin T. Hulten, 38, was charged earlier this month with seven criminal theft charges stemming from a series of alleged shoplifting episodes this summer at a Walmart in Colville. Hulten was under court supervision at the time for a series of similar incidents that occurred at a grocery store in March, according to court records.
On at least six different occasions in July and August, surveillance cameras at the store north of downtown Colville captured footage of Hulten walking out with merchandise he hadn’t paid for. Each theft followed the purchase of prescriptions at the pharmacy, according to court records. The alleged thefts totaled about $350.
A pharmacy employee confronted Hulten at the store’s exit on Aug. 21, asking to see a receipt for a cart full of items that “had been covered so as to conceal” them, according to court records. Hulten responded that he needed to retrieve his wallet from his car, despite the fact that he had already paid for prescriptions with a debit card, according to court records. Hulten left the cart and did not return to pay for the merchandise, according to Walmart security.
Hulten is not in custody. Brendan Kidd, Hulten’s attorney, declined to comment on the case.
In April, Hulten joined the weekly Statesman-Examiner newspaper as an editor, according to his Facebook page. After the first string of shoplifting allegations, his name was removed from the paper’s masthead. He no longer works for the Colville newspaper.
Hulten had previously served as a legislative analyst for Aaron Reardon, a Snohomish County executive who resigned in 2013 amid allegations of harassment against political foes. Hulten was accused of engaging in deceptive practices, including setting up fake social media accounts and filing public records requests under pseudonyms, as first reported by the Everett Herald. Hulten was fined $2,500 by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission and also pleaded guilty to evidence tampering, a gross misdemeanor, for deleting computer files in the middle of a criminal harassment investigation.
The seven additional theft counts bring the total number of theft charges Hulten faces to 11. Most are gross misdemeanors, which carry potential penalties of up to 364 days in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. His next day in a Stevens County courtroom is scheduled for Nov. 3, according to court records.
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