Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Bits and pieces

There was some excitement after I left work last night. An armed man robbed the Dollar Tree store at 9211 E. Montgomery at 7:20 p.m. Witnessess said they saw him loitering around the front of the store for quite some time before he did the deed. Click here for more information, including a description.  

Reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner has a story today on why the local bonds failed, including one for the Central Valley School District. Theories include the economy and vote by mail. See more from Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small here.

Suspect sought in pizza place hold-up

Detectives are asking for help finding a man suspected of robbing a Newport pizza place last week.

Benjamin Thomas Watson, 24, is considered armed and dangerous after the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office linked him to a robbery at Westside Pizza, 325 S. Washington Ave., on Friday.

Thomas is described as 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds with blue eyes and very short hair or a shaved head.

He's believed to be driving a grey 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, with Washington license plate 837UBL.

Anyone with information on Watson's location is asked to call the sheriff's office at 1-800-669-3407. If you see him or his vehicle, call 911.

Robbery suspect escapes drug rehab

A robbery suspect allowed to leave jail for drug rehabilitation is wanted by police for escape.

Aaron Lee Goldstein, 18, left Spokane Addiction Recovery Center, 812 S. Walnut Ave., on Friday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.

He’d been in custody since December, charged with first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Detectives believe he’s connected to armed robberies in November and December at the Holiday gas station on North Argonne Road, Sam’s Stop and Shop on East Sprague Avenue, Nevada Street Brew Espresso, McQuick Mart on South Regal, and the Zip Trips at Fourth Avenue and Sullivan Road and at Illinois Street and Perry Place.

Two other suspects, Sean T. Smith and Vanessa E. Orr, both 23, are in jail. Goldstein, a transient with family in Northern California, is described as 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.

He has tattoos of two teardrops under his left eye, and “Bay Boy” tattooed on his neck.

Anyone with information on Goldstein’s location should call 911.

Crime Stoppers also is offering a reward for tips that lead to Goldstein's capture.

Judge’s son suspected in casino heist

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The bankrupt son of a Las Vegas judge followed a crude holdup at a posh casino by racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling losses and spending a week like a high roller, but got caught after trying to hawk his stolen chips online to poker players, police said Thursday.

 An arrest report for the helmeted bandit, who ran out of the Bellagio hotel-casino with $1.5 million in chips during a gunpoint heist Dec. 14, said Anthony M. Carleo (pictured) lost about $105,000 at the resort over the next month — including $73,000 on New Year's Eve. He stayed at least one week at the resort in late January, enjoying meals, drinks and rooms furnished by the casino.

“He likes to gamble,” Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Steiber said as he described for reporters how Carleo, 29, was nabbed late Wednesday on the same casino floor from where the chips came.

Carleo wasn't armed and offered no resistance when he was taken into custody.

 Police recovered $900,000 in chips of different types — the ones stolen ranged from $100 to $25,000 — and can account for $1.2 million, Steiber said.

Read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Oskar Garcia by clicking the link below.
  

Armed ‘Obama robber’ hits Austria banks

VIENNA (AP) — Say, isn't that the president with a gun in his hand? Actually, no, but it sure looks like it.

Austrian authorities are searching for a bank robber who uses an unusual disguise: He wears a Barack Obama mask during his holdups.

Police say the man, nicknamed the “Obama Robber” by local media, is wanted for six heists since 2008. The most recent took place last week in the hamlet of Handenberg, where the Obama-resembling suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of money after threatening bank employees with a gun.

Police official Markus Mitloehner said that the man is thought to be a local since he speaks the regional dialect — with nary a trace of Obama's more professorial accent.

Kidney-for-parole raises ethical debate

By HOLBROOK MOHR

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi's governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an armed robbery that netted $11, but one woman's release requires her to donate her kidney to the other.

The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren't a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?

Gov. Haley Barbour's (left) decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women's attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime.

The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state's African-American community.

 The Scotts were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Three teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets — making off with only $11, the sisters' attorney said.

 After 16 years in prison, Jamie Scott, 36, is on daily dialysis, which officials say costs the state about $200,000 a year.

 Barbour agreed to release her because of her medical condition, but 38-year-old Gladys Scott's release order says one of the conditions she must meet is to donate the kidney within one year.

The idea to donate the kidney was Gladys Scott's and she volunteered to do it in her petition for early release.

National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous (right) thanked Barbour on Thursday after meeting him at the state capital in Jackson, calling his decision “a shining example” of the way a governor should use the power of clemency.

Others aren't so sure.

Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied transplants and their legal and ethical ramifications for about 25 years. He said he's never heard of anything like this.

Even though Gladys Scott proposed the idea in her petition for an early release and volunteered to donate the organ, Caplan said, it is against the law to buy and sell organs or to force people to give one up.

“When you volunteer to give a kidney, you're usually free and clear to change your mind right up to the last minute,” he said. “When you put a condition on it that you could go back to prison, that's a pretty powerful incentive.”

So what happens if she decides, minutes from surgery, to back off the donation?

“My understanding is that she's committed to doing this. This is something that she came up with,” said Barbour's spokesman, Dan Turner. “This is not an idea the governor's office brokered. It's not a quid pro quo.”

What happens if medical testing determines that the two are not compatible for a transplant? Turner said the sisters are a blood-type match, but that tests to determine tissue compatibility still need to be done.

If they don't match, or if she backs out, will she be heading back to prison?

“All of the 'What if' questions are, at this point, purely hypothetical,” Barbour said in a statement from his office late Thursday. “We'll deal with those situations if they actually happen.”

Legally, there should be no problems since Gladys Scott volunteered to donate the kidney, said George Cochran, a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law who specializes in constitutional matters.

“You have a constitutional right to body integrity, but when you consent (to donate an organ) you waive that” right, he said.

Other experts said the sisters' incarceration and their desire for a transplant operation are two separate matters and should not be tied together.

Dr. Michael Shapiro, chief of organ transplants at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and the chair of the ethics committee at the United Network for Organ Sharing, said the organ transplant should not be a condition of release.

“The simple answer to that is you can't pay someone for a kidney,” Shapiro said. “If the governor is trading someone 20 years for a kidney, that might potentially violate the valuable consideration clause” in federal regulations.

That clause is meant to prohibit the buying or selling of organs, and Shapiro said the Scott sisters' situation could violate that rule because it could be construed as trading a thing of value — freedom from prison — for an organ.

Putting conditions on parole, however, is a long-standing practice. And governors granting clemency have sometimes imposed unusual ones, such as requiring people whose sentences are reduced to move elsewhere.

In 1986, South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow commuted the sentences of 36 criminals, but only on the condition that they leave his state and never come back. In Florida, the governor and members of his cabinet voted in 1994 to reduce a convicted killer's sentence as long as he agreed to live in Maryland.

Whatever the legal or ethical implications of Barbour's decision, it thrust him back into the spotlight, after his recent comments in a magazine article about growing up in the segregated South struck some as racially insensitive.

In the article, Barbour explained that the public schools in his hometown of Yazoo City didn't see the violence that other towns did, and attributed that to the all-white Citizens Council in Mississippi.

Some critics said he glossed over the group's role in segregation. He later said he wasn't defending the group.

The Scott sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said people have asked if Barbour, who is mentioned as a potential presidential contender in 2012, suspended their sentences for political reasons.

“My guess is he did,” Lumumba said, but he still said the governor did the right thing.

Mississippi Rep. George Flaggs, an outspoken Democrat in the state legislature and an African-American, scoffed at suggestions that Barbour's motive was political and said the decision wasn't an attempt to gloss over the magazine comments.

Flaggs said Barbour suspended the sentences “not only to let this woman out of prison, but to save her life.

“If she doesn't get a kidney, she's going to die,” he said.

‘Santa Claus’ sought in armed robbery

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Call it a ho-ho-holdup.

Police say a man dressed as Santa Claus has robbed a Rhode Island yacht club.

Authorities say a bartender was alone in the East Providence Yacht Club Sunday night when a large man wearing a red suit, red hat, white beard and carrying a sack walked into the bar and brandished a gun.

The bartender fled and ran to a nearby business where she called 911.

By the time police arrived, the Santa bandit — as well as an undetermined amount of cash from the register — was missing.

Co-owner Tony Perry tells WLNE-TV he's just glad no one was hurt.

There were no immediate arrests.

Cops: Girlfriend’s hoodie reveals robber

A 28-year-old man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane convenience store remains in jail on $75,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today.

Zachariah T. Puckett was armed with a 12-inch kitchen knife when threatened a clerk at Divine food mart and gas station, 1428 W. 2nd Ave., and stole more than $200, according to Spokane police.

Puckett was wearing a sweatshirt that zipped all the way to the top of the hood with two eyes pictured on the front of the hood.

Police found Puckett’s girlfriend wearing the same sweatshirt a short while later at 151 S. Adams Street, then saw a pile of cash “laying on the bed from the open front door,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

The woman allowed police to search the apartment. They found Puckett in the laundry room.
He and his girlfriend were regular customers at the store. (Disclaimer: So am I.)

Puckett already had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to show up for a court hearing related to a second-degree theft case. Now he’s in jail on a first-degree robbery charge, too.

3rd suspect arrested in robbery spree

A third suspect in a series of convenience store robberies was arrested early today.

Aaron L. Goldstein, 18, was caught trespassing inside a building in the 400 block of South Bernard and driven to the Public Safety Building, where interviews with Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts connected him to six recent robberies, according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Two other suspects, Sean T. Smith and Vanessa E. Orr, both 23, were arrested Wednesday during a SWAT team raid at the Crossland Motel, 12803 E. Sprague Ave.

Ricketts believes the three robbed the Holiday gas station, 2303 N. Argonne Road, on Dec. 4, as well as Sam’s Stop and Shop, 11505 E. Sprague Ave., on Nov. 28.

Orr reportedly admitted to being in the car during several robberies and said she’d driven to and from the Holiday gas station holdup, according to court documents. She was released from jail on her recognizance Thursday after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on a conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery charge.

Smith remains in jail on a Department of Corrections probation hold. Goldstein has been booked on one count of fist-degree robbery, Reagan said.

Duo suspected in armed robbery spree

Two 23-year-old transients were arrested this week on suspicion of a string of armed robberies at local convenience stores.

Sean T. Smith and Vanessa E. Orr were arrested at the Crossland Motel, 12803 E. Sprague Ave. Wednesday after a sheriff’s SWAT team raid.

Detectives identified the two as suspects through tips and say Orr told him she didn’t know the robber but had “unwittingly became involved,” according to court documents.

Smith reportedly admitted to being in the car used in five robberies, including a holdup Dec. 4 at the Holiday Gas station, 2303 N. Argonne Road. Sheriff’s detectives have not publicly identified the man Smith said actually robbed the stores.

Smith told detectives he and Orr split proceeds with the man and another individual. Smith said he spent his money on meth, “which he would distribute later to make a profit,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

The affidavit does not list other robberies detectives believe are connected to the two.

Orr was released from jail on her own recognizance Thursday after appearing in Superior Court on a conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery charge.

Smith remains in jail on a Department of Corrections probation hold.

2 robberies in Valley likely not linked

Armed robberies were reported at Spokane Valley two convenience stores Saturday and today, but police don’t yet suspect a serial robber.

“Armed robberies always go up over the holidays. It’s an annual thing,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. “I have not heard from any of our detectives that they suspect these are linked.”

The first robbery occurred Saturday just after 3 a.m. at the Holiday Gas Station, 2303 N. Argonne Road.

A man in a black ski mask, gloves, dark pants and a white t-shirt and holding a black semi-automatic handgun ran northbound from the store after stealing an undisclosed amount of money. He was described as a thin white man in his late teens or early 20s.

Then this morning, a man in a black ski mask and carrying a black pistol stole a small amount of cash from Zip Trip, 15504 E. Fourth Ave., after tossing the clerk a bag. The man ran southbound from the store about 2:30 a.m. to a nearby apartment complex, where a sheriff’s K-9 lost his scent.

The robber was described as a white man in his early 20s, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds. He wore black gloves, black pants, black shoes and a black puffy coat over a white shirt.

Anyone with information on either robbery is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Woman attacked while leaving Rite Aid

Get Adobe Flash player

Police are looking for a man who robbed a woman outside a Spokane drug store just after noon on Monday.

The man followed the victim as she left the Rite Aid, 5520 N. Division St., and attacked her, according to police.

She was in the parking lot when he grabbed her purse and knocked her to the ground before driving away in a full-size black pickup truck with 4x4 written on the back, police said Tuesday.

Surveillence photos and video show the robber to be a white man, about 6 feet tall, wearing a brown Carhartt jacket, jeans, white shoes and a light colored ball cap with a green bill.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

1 man suspected in 4 Hillyard holdups

Spokane police are looking for tips on a serial robber suspected of targeting Hillyard convenience stores.

The latest holdup occurred Friday when police say a man with a handgun stole money from the Qwik Stop, 3021 E. Wellesley Ave., about 12:45 a.m.  after pulling a black and white scarf over his face. He’s described as in his 20s with dark complexion, 6 feet tall and average build. He wore a black coat and blue jeans. 

The same gunman is believed to have robbed two other Hillyard stores three times late last month, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said today.

Surveillance photos from Conoco, 3501 E. Francis Ave., show a man in a blue hooded sweatshirt pointing a gun at a clerk and demanding cash on Oct. 24 about 7:45 p.m.

The same robber is believed to have struck Kwik Stop & Go, 4713 N. Crestline, the mornings of Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.

Anyone with information on a suspect is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2 men arrested for robbery 6 months later

Two Kalispell, Mont., men have been arrested for a gunpoint robbery at a North Idaho grocery store last fall.

The suspects, Philip Paul-Richard Luedcke, 22 (right), and Nathan Wayne Hunt, 19, are accused of robbing the Super 1 Foods in Hayden early Oct. 17.

Detectives say one of the men held a clerk and customer at gunpoint before fleeing with cash into a waiting vehicle.

Hunt was arrested today in Kalispell and is awaiting extradition to Kootenai County. Luedcke was arrested Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene. Both have a $75,000 bond for a robbery charge.

The robbery came the same weekend as robberies at the Coeur d’Alene Dairy Queen and at Piggies Deli and Market, 2001 E. Sherman Ave. Investigators haven’t determined if they’re connected.

A tipster led detectives to Luedcke and Hunt.

3 mugged in Spokane early Saturday

Three people were mugged in Spokane early Saturday, and police are looking for help identifying suspects.

Two robberies occurred about 4 a.m. near Sprague and Washington, then at Riverside and Washington. Another occurred between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. at 2200 W. Wellesley Ave.

According to police, three men in dark shirts reportedly threatened the victims with a handgun while demanding valuables.

One man was described as 6 feet tall to 6-foot-1, and weighing 230 to 300 pounds. Another wore a dark t-shirt with FBI written on it. The men were seen in a white or light colored sedan.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online.

Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.

Valley man robbed, beaten in home

A Spokane Valley man was awakened this morning by home-invasion robbers who hit him over the head and broke his finger before stealing prescription medications and other valuables.

The robbers - one who was armed with a knife - remain at large, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The men are described as white, 5-foot-11, thin and were wearing gray-hooded sweatshirts and gloves. The man with the knife was said to be in his 20s, the other was described as 35 to 40.

The men forced their way into a home at 8600 E. Broadway about 7:50 a.m. and confronted the sleeping homeowner, who is in his 60s, with the knife, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

They fled with the medications, a handgun and gold coins after assaulting the man, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

SWAT team nabs robbery suspect

A man police believe robbed a coffee stand was arrested Friday after a SWAT team standoff.

Shawn Michael Westlie, 41, hid inside a home in the 2100 block of Montgomery Avenue in west Spokane when police arrived about 3:30 p.m. but surrendered about 90 minutes later without incident, said Officer Glenn Bartlett.

Detectives believe Westlie robbed Best Espresso, 5226 N. Division St., at gunpoint Wednesday, Bartlett said.

The robber had a silver handgun and matched the description of a would-be robber earlier that day at the Jack in the Box restaurant at Hawthorne Road and North Division about 3 miles away, but police don’t know if the crimes are connected, Bartlett said.

“We’re definitely looking into it,” Bartlett said. Police didn’t find a gun on Westlie Friday but were preparing to search the home about 6 p.m.

Westlie has a history of burglary and theft dating back to at least 1997, according to news archives.

His most recent conviction was in February 2009 when he pleaded guilty to third-degree theft and was credited for 21 served in jail and put on probation for a year.

He made the news a couple of times in the late 90s.

Click the link below to read the (brief) items.