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Duo arrested for mall-related crimes

A woman and man arrested at the Spokane Valley Mall with stolen credit cards led to an investigation into a series of property crimes.

Tabitha Dawn Creel, 30, and John Andrew Howard, 29, are accused of buying gift cards with stolen credit cards, then trying to return the gift cards for cash.

Howard and Creel was arrested at the mall May 30 after allegedly trying to use a stolen credit card. Creel told deputies she's a heroin addict, and police found heroin in her purse as well as a digital scale.

She said she often pawned stolen items for Howard that included guitars, laptops and an air compressor.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office burglary task force completed an investigation into the duo Tuesday that calls for them to be charged with 26 felonies, including vehicle prowling, possession of stolen property, money laundering, trafficking in stolen property, possession of a deadly weapon, possession of heroin, identity theft and forgery.
  

DeLay Gets 3-Year Prison Sentence

A judge ordered former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to serve three years in prison Monday for his role in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was once one of the most powerful men in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives/Associated Press. More here.

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B.C. woman busted at border with $150,000

A B.C. woman is due in federal court in Spokane today after being arrested at the United States border at Oroville last week with nearly $150,000 in unreported cash.

Marina Cantarero-Cruz, 48, was driving a 2004 Acura when border agents discovered a secret compartment July 14 about 2:10 p.m.

Cantarero-Cruz, of Oliver, B.C, and two passengers had said they were traveling to the Rancho Chico restaurant in Tonasket and had denied transporting more than $10,000, according to court documents.

A K-9 dog detected the cash in the compartment, documents allege.

Agents seized $132,980 in U.S. cash and $12,200 in Canadian cash. An additional $2,100 in U.S. currency and $870 in Canadian was falling out of her underwear, documents allege.

Her bail hearing for a cash smuggling charge is set for today at 3 p.m. She remains in Spokane County Jail.

Hells Angel’s federal bail greatly reduced

A Canadian Hells Angel in federal custody at the Spokane County Jail had his cash bail requirement drastically reduced Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Brian L. Hall, 43, will be allowed out of custody if he posts $100,00 cash bond and a $300,000 surety bond, not $400,000 cash as previously ordered. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno approved Hall’s request today.

Federal prosecutors, who appealed Imbrogno’s original decision to grant Hall bond, didn’t directly object to the request but said the change “turns the case bond amount in to a bail facilitation conditions, rather than an appearance assurance condition,” according to court documents.

Hall faces drug and money laundering charges for alleged crimes in 2003 and 2004. He fought extradition from Canada for nearly two years before arriving in Spokane in May.

Imbrogno cited Hall’s lack of criminal history and his strong family support when granting bond; Judge Fremming Nielsen later upheld her decision.

In a motion filed June 30, Hall’s lawyer, Todd Maybrown of Seattle, said Hall and his fiancee, Kristina Kieler, got $100,000 cash from a home equity loan and have obtained a $200,000 surety bond from Lacey O’Malley Bail bonds in Seattle  based on property a friend of Hall’s owns on Vancouver Island. The motion also says Kieler tried visiting Hall June 29 but was detained at the border “and interrogated for more than four hours.”

“The officers demanded to know how Mr. Hall would be able to post the bail that had been set by this Court,” according to the motion.

Past coverage:

June 9: Judge upholds Hells Angel’s release

June 2: Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

Judge upholds Hells Angel’s jail release

A federal judge has rejected a prosecutor’s request to hold a Canadian Hells Angel without bail on drug and money laundering charges.

Brian L. Hall, 43, will be allowed to leave the Spokane County Jail and return to British Columbia if he posts a $400,000 cash bond, Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen ruled Tuesday.

Nielsen’s ruling upholds an early decision by Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno to grant Hall, a member of the notorious biker gang who fought extradition for nearly two years, bail under the condition he stay in contact with court officials and not contact biker gangs.

Federal prosecutors wanted Nielsen to reverse Imbrogno’s decision, arguing Hall is a flight risk, and that the cash bond is too low for a member of organized crime accused of laundering at least $180,000.

But Nielsen, like Imbrogno, ruled that Hall’s strong family ties, stable living situation, lack of a criminal history and work with two businesses outweigh concerns about his release.

Though a member of the Hells Angel, “there is insufficient evidence of substance abuse or dependency at this time,” Nielsen wrote. “Despite the nature of the charges, there is insufficient evidence that Mr. Hall presents a likely danger to the community should he be released.” Nielsen changed Hall’s release conditions to require $400,000 cash bond instead of $300,000 and to nix Imbrogno’s requirement that Hall’s grandparents post $100,000.

Hall’s charges are connected to $184,750 in U.S. currency seized by the Border Patrol in February 2003, as well as 1,200 pounds of marijuana seized by the DEA in April 2004.

A co-conspirator, David Sidwell, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to two marijuana charges and one count of attempting bulk cashing smuggling. He’s serving a 40-month prison sentence.

In court last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Smoot described the Canadian branch of the Hells Angels as “more business oriented than necessarily violence oriented.” “I think in fairness that needs to be said,” Smoot said.

Smoot questioned Hall’s offer to waive extradition, saying the waiver might not be acceptable because he signed it with the idea of release in mind.

Hall’s lawyer, Phillip Wetzel, said Hall was a highly paid mechanic who worked on big-rig trucks before getting injured and opening a motorcycle shop, Nitro Motion, and an excavation business.

There’s “not a suggestion or hint that he’s ever been involved in any intimidation or violence,” Wetzel said.

Hall remained in jail Tuesday night.

Past coverage:

June 2: Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

Cash smuggling suspect held without bail

A Canadian man arrested at the U.S. border with $520,000 in unreported cash will remain in federal custody without bail.

Richard Paul Neumeyer, 66, of Kelowna, B.C., pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with bulk cash smuggling - a felony that carries a maximum five years in prison but isn’t an extraditable offense in Canada.

That, coupled with Neumeyer’s admitted marijuana use and lack of ties to the area, led Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno late Wednesday to order him held at the Spokane County Jail pending trial. Neumeyer was arrested May 21 at the border crossing in Laurier, Ferry County.

“This is a case of overwhelming guilt,”  Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lister said in court Wednesday. “He was caught red-handed with half a million dollars.”

Federal agents say they found the cash - $510,000 in U.S. currency and $10,000 Canadian - in two hidden compartments in the floor of his 2006 Volvo after Neumeyer said he had only $1,600 in cash. Documents say he confessed to transporting cash - for a 2 percent cut - to Wickenburg, Ariz., about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix. Records show it was his fifth visit to the United States this year.

Neumeyer, whose criminal history includes a conviction for theft in 1961, is retired, and his only income source an $800 monthly pension. But he’s living in a $1,200 a month apartment, Lister said.

“This defendant is clearly living beyond his means,” she said.

Neumeyer’s lawyer, Frank Cikutovich, said Neumeyer’s brothers were willing to put up their homes in exchange for his release.

Past coverage:

May 24: Man arrested at U.S border w. $520,000

Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

A member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who fought extradition to the United States for two years was granted bail by a U.S. magistrate in Spokane, but federal prosecutors are appealing the decision.

Brian Lee Hall, 43, has been in the Spokane County Jail since May 7, more than four years after a grand jury indicted him on marijuana and money laundering charges.

Hall, described in court documents as a full-patch member of the notorious biker gang, was arrested in British Columbia in 2008 and was in jail and on home-monitoring before consenting to extradition earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors want him held without bail, but his attorney successfully argued last week that he should be allowed to return to Canada before the charges are resolved.

A motion asking to reconsider Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s decision is to be argued on Thursday. Imbrogno cited Hall’s lack of criminal history and his strong family support when allowing him to post $400,000 bond - $300,000 from Hall and $100,000 from his grandparents, Howard and Lorna Bell - and leave the country. He’s required to check in with authorities and not contact motorcycle gangs.

A 19-page memorandum filed Monday by federal prosecutors says the letters from Hall’s friends and family presented to Imbrogno didn’t prove Hall isn’t a flight risk. It details several reasons to keep Hall behind bars, including the propensity of foreigners in drug cases to flee and the dangers associated with the Hells Angels.

“Rather than assert that the Defendant’s association with the Hells Angels should have no bearing on his request for release, defense counsel suggested that conditions of release could include no contacts with any Hells Angels members,” prosecutors wrote. “At the least, defense counsel’s suggestion presupposes the negative connotation associated with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. At the most, it concedes the gang’s propensity for dangerous association.”

Hall’s charges are connected to $184,750 in U.S. currency seized by the Border Patrol in February 2003, as well as 1,200 pounds of marijuana seized by the DEA in April 2004. A co-conspirator, David Sidwell, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to two marijuana charges and one count of attempting bulk cashing smuggling. He’s serving a 40-month prison sentence.

Hall’s defense lawyer, Todd Maybrown of Seattle, filed a memorandum opposing the government’s request for detention today, calling the government’s request “self-serving.”

According to the document, Hall does not have a passport, worked in landscaping and lived in Abbotsford, B.C with his fiancee, Kristina Keiler, and her two young daughters before his arrest. Hall was a successful professional motorcycle rider when he joined the Hells Angels, his lawyer said.

“There is simply no basis to believe Mr. Hall represents any danger to the community,” according to the memo. “…Without any real evidence to supports its Motion for Detention, the Government is left to make wild and unsupported accusations.”

The motion is to be argued Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Man arrested at U.S. border with $520,000

A Canadian man arrested while crossing the border with $520,000 in cash remains in Spokane County Jail after appearing in U.S. District Court today.

Richard Paul Neumeyer, 66, of Kelowna, B.C., told federal agents he’d been transporting cash into the United States for a fee after he was arrested Friday at the border crossing in Laurier, Ferry County, according to court documents.

Federal agents say they found the cash - $510,000 in U.S. currency and $10,000 Canadian - in two hidden compartments in the floor of his 2006 Volvo about 11 a.m. Neumeyer said he had only $1,600 in cash when he arrived at the crossing, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

When first interviewed by law enforcement about 7:25 p.m. Friday, Neumeyer said he was driving to Las Vegas for a three or four-day vacation but he had no plans once there and hadn’t secured a hotel room, according to court documents filed today. He reportedly confessed to transporting cash - for a 2 percent cut - to Wickenburg, Ariz., about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, 45 minutes into the interview.

Border records show Neumeyer crossed through Laurier on Jan. 7, Feb. 8, March 6, and April 21, according to court documents. He told federal agents he made $9,000 his first trip and $10,000 his second trip.

Neumeyer is to return to court on Thursday for a bail hearing on one count of failing to report currency under the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act.

Police seize bank records after UPS finds pot

Detectives are investigating a 20-year-old Spokane man for money laundering after they say he tried to mail a pound of marijuana to Missouri.

A search warrant authorizes detectives to access Johnathon A. Delay’s Bank of America account, “and to seize any and all U.S currency located therein.”

Delay was arrested last week on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after a United Parcel Services employee smelled marijuana on a package he mailed. A police officer with the Spokane County Regional Drug Task Force posed as a UPS employee and told Delay to go to a UPS store to report the package stolen.

Investigators searched Delay’s cell phone after his arrest and found pictures “of large quantities of u.s currency, as well as photographs depicting a large scale, indoor marijuana grow operation,” according to a search warrant used to seize Delay’s records with Bank of America.

“Detective McClary believes that photographs of this nature present on Delay’s cell phone strongly suggest that he may be involved in the illegal growing and/or distributing of marijuana….(and) that drug traffickers often utilize bank accounts to collect drug debt over long distances quickly,” according to the warrant.

Judge Sam Cozza authorized the warrant on Thursday. It was filed Friday in Spokane County Superior Court.