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Jury indicts DSHS worker for child porn

A state social services employee arrested on child pornography charges April 17 has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Darrell J. Rogers, 51, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of distribution of child pornography. The charges carry five years to 20 years in prison and registration as a sex offender if convicted. 

Rogers, a married father with no criminal history, was allowed to leave jail a few days after his arrest after undergoing a mental health assessment.

A prosecutor said the material federal agents downloaded from Rogers, who licenses foster homes for children, is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

Felon had 12 guns, 12k ammo rounds

A convicted felon accused of illegally possessing guns had 12 firearms and more than 12,000 rounds of ammunition when federal agents searched her home last week, a new grand jury indictment alleges.

Donna R. Perry, alias Douglas Perry, 60, pleaded not guiltyTuesday to a federal charge of felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. She's been in jail since she was arrested March 14 at her home near North Crestline Street and East Empire Avenue.

A judge on Tuesday recommended Perry undergo a mental health evaluation.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating Perry after a retired detective contacted them March 12 and said he'd observed Perry buying ammo and a pistol magazine at the White Elephant store, 12614 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley, according to court documents. The detective knew Perry is a felon prohibited from possessing firearms.

Agents identified Perry in part through a photo the detective took of her blue 1992 Geo Metro.

They learned from the Washington Department of Licensing that the owner had changed his name from Douglas Perry to Donna Perry in 2000 and had changed his gender from male to female. Police compared a driver's license photo of Perry to the photo provided by the detective.

Federal agents say Perry had 12,499 rounds of ammunition in her home, as well as various pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Perry has felony convictions for possession of an unregistered firearm (pipebombs) in 1988 and felon in possession of firearms and ammunition in 1995.

She pleaded not guilty to the new federal indictment Tuesday in U.S. District Court and remains at the Spokane County Jail without bail.

Nail salon crack cocaine suspect indicted

A man accused of selling crack cocaine out of a Spokane nail salon has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Paul Lamar Rios, 30, was one of several people arrested Thursday during a widespread drug and gun investigation by the Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Task Force.

Rios and his girlfriend,  Krista L. Isaacs, 34, were arrested during a SWAT team raid at 8210 N. Lucia Ct. on Oct. 21.

Police seized about four ounces of crack cocaine from a safe in the home. They searched Isaac's nail salon, Luscious Nails and Beyond, 1721 Northwest Boulevard, the same day.

Police were authorized to search the nail shop and the home after a confidential informant used a “unwitting individual” to buy crack cocaine from Paul Rios thrice in September and once from Isaacs at the nail shop on Oct. 14.

“The unwitting source told the informant that Rios was cautious and only deals with five other people,” according to court documents.

Detectives seized the couple's cellphones to review for evidence of drug sales. No charges have been filed against Isaacs.

Rios in the Spokane County Jail on a federal hold after pleading not guilty Thursday to three counts of distribution of cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine.

A grand jury indicted Rios on Dec. 20, but authorities waited nearly a month to arrest him as part of a coordinated day of arrests called “Operation Old School.

Charge: Soldier took child porn to Kuwait

A soldier is accused of transporting child pornography from Spokane to Kuwait while on duty with the military.

Jason D. Talbott, 33, pleaded not guilty today to four child pornography charges in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He was allowed to stay out of jail awaiting trial and will reside in Denver, Colo., where he is stationed with the military, according to court documents.

A federal grand jury indicted Talbott Nov. 16 on charges of receipt, possession, distribution and transportation of child pornography, as well as a forfeiture charge that calls for him to relinquish a computer, an external hard drive and a digital book reader.

The charges allege Talbott receiving child pornography in Spokane Valley between June 21, 2005, and April 21, 2009, and possessing the material until March 16. He's accused of distributing the pornography between August 2010 and November 2010, and of transporting a computer with explicit images on it to Kuwait in December 2010.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Talbott's release conditions require him to stay away from minors unless another adult is present. He's prohibited from accessing the Internet unless he's required to do so by the military.

According to the Daily Mail, Talbott was identified by federal authorities after he contacted a fake website that advertised children for sex. The website was an undercover Internet sting operation designed by the Department of Homeland Security but has since been shutdown, the newspaper reports.

Charge dropped against 1 Pirtle brother

A Spokane man once accused of a baseball bat attack last May has been cleared of wrongdoing after several people said he wasn't present during the assault.

Prosecutors moved to dismiss a second-degree assault charge against Andrew Lee Elias Pirtle, 21, after detectives interviewed witnesses and found evidence supporting his alibi, said his public defender, Kevin Griffin.

Pirtle “wasn't even there” when a young man was beaten in Cannon Hill Park, 800 W. 19th Ave., on May 14, Griffin said. A judge agreed to the prosecution's request earlier this month.

Pirtle's older brother, Jayce Leon Elton Pirtle Jr., 23, still is charged with second-degree assault for the attack. He faces life in prison if convicted because of Washington's three-strikes law. He posted bond Nov. 16 but was arrested again last week on a new federal indictment charging him with felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of stolen firearms.

U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno on Monday ordered Jayce Pirtle to stay in jail without bail after hearing testimony from his mother, Debra Pirtle.

The Pirtles are the nephews of Blake Pirtle, who murdered two Burger King employees in Spokane Valley in 1992. His death sentence was overturned after a judge ruled law enforcement violated his civil rights during his arrest.

The Pirtles claim police unfairly target them because of that case.

Grand jury indicts Pirtle for stolen guns

A member of a Spokane family that claims police target them because of their relation to a notorious double murderer was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury - the same day he left jail on $25,000 bond in an assault case.

Jayce Leon Elton Pirtle Jr., 23, who already is facing life in prison under Washington's three-strikes law for an assault charge, now faces two federal felony charges for three guns and 175 rounds of ammunition found in his apartment at 1808 E. Pacific Ave. on July 8.

His probation officer found a .357 handgun after learning police were investigating Pirtle for a burglary, according to court documents. Spokane police obtained a search warrant and seized the handgun, along with two rifles.

Pirtle was arrested that day on a second-degree assault charge for an alleged baseball bat beating that left a man with a permanent lip disfigurement in May. His brother, Andrew Lee Elias Pirtle, also is charged.

He has not yet been arraigned on the federal charges of felon in possession of firearms and ammo and unlawful possession of stolen firearms and ammo. The charges carry up to 10 years in prison, or at least 15 years if Pirtle is found to be an armed career criminal.

The Pirtles are the nephews of Blake Pirtle, who killed two Burger King employees in Spokane Valley 1992. His death sentence was overturned after a judge ruled law enforcement violated his civil rights during his arrest.

The Pirtles claim police unfairly target them because of that case. Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe says the family has a “propensity for crime” that earns law enforcement attention.

Medical pot suspect released from jail

A medical marijuana advocate jailed for violating the conditions of his release on federal drug charges has been allowed to leave jail under strict conditions.

Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, was ordered to be released from jail on Monday but U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno, who imposed bond and called for frequent status conferences to ensure Laberdee complies with his conditions of release, which include drug tests and refraining from excessive use of alcohol.

Laberdee was required to post a $25,000 signature bond, meaning a friend or family member is responsible for the bond, and a $15,000 surety bond through a bonds company, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Family members said Laberdee was on a hunger strike at the Spokane County Jail, where he'd been since he turned himself in last month.

Laberdee had been allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers when Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home on Aug. 12.

Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,” according to court documents prepared by Law.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps described Laberdee as “kind of an old hippie.” Supporters say he views the case as a civil rights issue, and Laberdee has called on Willie Nelson for support.

A status hearing in his case is set for Oct. 4.
  

Federal medical marijuana suspect jailed

A medical marijuana advocate recently indicted in federal court is in jail after authorities found pot plants at his home in Lincoln County.

 Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, (pictured at a pro-marijuana rally in downtown Spokane, courtesy of the Inlander) turned himself in Tuesday after U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno issued a warrant for his arrest, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Laberdee was prohibited from possessing firearms and from violating federal law when he was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers.

On Aug. 12, the Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home, as well as a dismantled handgun and ammunition rounds. Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,”according to court documents.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps said a hearing is scheduled Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to determine if Laberdee will stay in jail.

Phelps said Laberdee had about 45 plants and was complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“Federal law says you can't have anything, and state law says you can,” Phelps said.

Laberdee  and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited are among five medical marijuana advocates indicted by a grand jury after federal authorities warned them to shut down or face prosecution.

The men are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

Phelps said his client is eager to bring attention to the federal case against medical marijuana.

“He's not trying to evade the process,” Phelps said.

Past coverage:

July 26: Medical marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson
  

Medical marijuana suspects arraigned

Four men facing federal prison time for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Charles Wright and Jon Vivian, former owners of the THC Pharmacy on South Perry Street, and Jerry Laberdee and Dennis Whited, former owners of Medical Herb Providers, appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Grand jury indicts Spokane medical marijuana dispensers

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispensaries on federal notice

March 17: Owners, law agencies disagree on legality of pot shops

Jury indicts 5 for medical marijuana

THC Pharmacy owner Charles Wright the operator of a marijuana dispensary, gives a quick thumbs up to chanting cannabis activists outside his store during a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 28. Wright was indicted Wednesday on federal drug charges.

The owners of two medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Charles Wesley Wright and Jon Richard Vivian, owners of the THC Pharmacy on South Perry Street, and Jerry Wayne Laberdee and Dennis Lewis Whited, owners of Medical Herb Providers, face time in federal prison under multi-count indictments filed today in U.S. District Court.

The charges are the latest in an escalating effort by federal authorities to rein in marijuana sales in states where voters have approved its medical use.

“I think I’m more shocked than surprised,” Spokane lawyer Frank Cikutovich, who specializes in marijuana cases.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispensaries on federal notice

March 17: Owners, law agencies disagree on legality of pot shops

June 28, 2009: Pot's legal ambiguity clouds law enforcement

Sensing device led to big Ecstasy bust

Two cousins arrested with 159 pounds of Ecstasy near the United States-Canadian border were caught after a remote sensing device alerted authorities to their location.

Christopher Sidney Stocken, 31, and Joshua John Bird, 23, had five backpacks filled with Ecstasy pills June 10 when a border patrol agent used a night vision device to spot them emerging from brush near Stecker Road and U.S. Highway 395

A grand jury indicted the men Tuesday for conspiracy to import Ecstasy, importation of Ecstasy and possession with intent to deliver Ecstasy. Each charge carries a maximum 20 years in prison and three years probation.
The men are being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail.

According toa  newly unsealed affidavit, the suspects told border patrol agents they were at a party in Kelowna, B.C., when two unidentified individuals forced them to take the bags to the border “because they owed someone money for being at the party and if they did not do this they would be killed.” Stocken and Bird said they were to drop the bags off at a predetermined location in the U.S. and return to Canada.

The men stuck with the blackmail story until Stocken told investigators the next day that they were neither coerced nor forced into smuggling the Ecstasy, rather they had agreed to transport the backpacks “to make quick easy money,” according to the affidavit.

Stocken said he had asked Bird to help.

“Stocken indicated he wanted to help out his cousin as he felt responsible for them getting caught,” according to the affidavit.

Grand jury indicts man for gun threats

A Worley, Idaho, man has been charged with assault for allegedly threatening two people with a gun.

Timothy R. Allen, Jr., 19, was arrested March 12, accused of assault Daniel J. Hutchins by pushing him with the firearm and threatening him and of assaulting Sharleen Archer by pointing the gun at her and threatening her, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Allen was jailed on state charges of aggravated assault, minor in possession of alcohol, damaging property, aiming a firearm at others and disobedience of a court order.

Because the assault occurred on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, where Allen is a tribal member, the case was sent to U.S. District Court.

A grand jury indicted him Tuesday on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, three years probation and a fine of $250,000.

Grand jury indicts Hells Angels leader

The sergeant at arms of the Washington chapter of the Hells Angels has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Ricky W. Jenks, 33, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after the jury indicted him in U.S. District Court for felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment on Friday and remains in the Spokane County Jail without bond.

Jenks, whose felony convictions include manslaughter, was the only suspect arrested at the clubhouse after investigators found eight firearms. The five other men at the clubhouse during the March 3 raid were from out of town and are not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, prosecutors say.

One of those men, Hells Angel member Jameal A. Hadeed, has claimed ownership of five of the eight firearms, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Another, Travis I. Vanweerdhuizen has claimed ownership of one.

But prosecutors have said four of the five men with Jenks at the clubhouse arrived in Spokane via airplane and did not check firearms.

Prosecutors are refusing to release the affidavit that authorized the search because it “contains material regarding an ongoing investigation,” documents said.

Another Hells Angel arrested March 4, Michael R. Fitzpatrick, 33, was jailed on a marijuana charge but released the next day.