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More than your average neighbor feud

When a north Spokane man awoke last weekend to the sound of his car alarm and found his window smashed, police traced fresh footprints leading from the crime scene to a neighbor’s home.

It was no surprise to the victim – he told police he’s known the man since the mid 1990s and suspects him of several other break-ins.

But the case is more than just an apparent feud between two neighbors. The alleged victim is a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective, the car an unmarked patrol cruiser.

And the suspect? The same guy arrested in an undercover sting last fall after investigators say he tried to sell a camera that had been stolen from the same detective’s car last year.

Now, Nick A. Peters, 26,(right) is in jail and facing criminal charges in connection with the Saturday break-in of sheriff’s Detective Bryan Miller’s unmarked police car. And authorities are lamenting a case in which the suspect doesn’t appear to be learning any lessons.

“We’d like to be able to park our cars out front like anybody else,” said Sgt. John Nowels.

Read the rest of my story here.

Previous coverage:

Craigslist camera sale leads to arrests

Man wanted for passing fake money

A man passed counterfeit $100 bills at two store last week, and detectives are looking for help identifying him.

The man used one bill to buy lottery scratch-it tickets at the GTX Truck Stop, 18723 E. Cataldo, on Feb. 3 at 2:30 p.m.

The next day, the man used another $100 bill to buy $50 of scratch-it tickets. The man has been described as in his 40s or 50s, balding and with a beard.

One witness said he appeared about 5-foot-4 and 165 pounds. Surveillance video at one of the businesses captured the above photo of the man.

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

Hockey game pits police v. sheriff’s office

Local law enforcement will take to the ice next week in a hockey game to raise money for the children of the slain Lakewood police officers.

Members of Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will play a hockey game at 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

Admission is free with a ticket to the Spokane Chiefs game that night at 7 p.m.

Donations will be accepted during the Chiefs game.

The Chiefs will be holding a silent auction to raise money for the children, too, according to a news release.

The game was organized by Officer Brad Moon, Deputy Khris Thompson and the Spokane Chiefs Hockey Club. Members of Lakewood Police Department will be present for both games. 

Bust nabs 80 pounds of marijuana

The suspected leader of an interstate marijuana distribution ring was arrested this week after investigators seized more than 80 pounds of marijuana, his Mercedes Benz and several guns, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Trent R. Harris, 27, of Kennewick was arrested Wednesday by sheriff’s detectives and members of the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force, the sheriff’s office announced today.

Arrested Thursday was 32-year-old Anthony Andre Wofford, alias Anthony Dre, who investigators say had more than $11,000 in suspect drug money connected to Harris’ operation.

Investigators had “developed information” after Harris’ arrest that led to Wofford’s arrest during a traffic stop by Washington State Patrol, according to a news release. 

Investigators placed a GPS tracking device on Wofford’s 2002 GMC Envoy on Jan. 22, according to a search warrant.

Detectives say Wofford routinely traveled to Spokane to collected money and distribute large quantities of marijuana. Wofford was arrested Thursday and is due in Superior Court today on one charge of delivery of a controlled substance.

Harris was arrested Wednesday and was released from jail after appearing in court Thursday, records show.

Idaho State Police and the Tri-Cities Metro Drug Task Force are working with the Spokane County investigators.

Ignition device law a test for agencies

Changes to a state law put a fired Spokane police sergeant in a new class of drunken drivers: first-time offenders required to drive with an ignition interlock device.

That new requirement led to Brad Thoma’s dismissal from the Spokane Police Department after the department said public safety would be compromised by having an officer who had to pass a breathalyzer test any time he needed to start his patrol car. It appears to be the first time a law enforcement agency statewide has had to consider the issue.

Now officials with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office are wondering what the requirement could mean for a lieutenant suspected of a drunken car crash in Liberty Lake.

While the Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol handle similar situations on a case-by-case basis, Sheriff’s Office policy calls for employees to be fired after their second drunken driving offense.

“It’s still kind of unclear as to what that means for somebody who is working,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Read the rest of my story here.

‘All the nudes that’s fit to sprint’

A news release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office calls it a clear case of “all the nudes that’s fit to sprint.”

A 53-year-old Spokane Valley man was cited for indecent exposure Thursday after a police officer found him naked and fondling himself in front of traffic on East Sprague Avenue.

Gene F. Young ran when he saw Officer Chuck Sciortino approaching about 9:50 p.m., and Sciortino caught up with him when he fell in parking lot next to an auto parts store.

Young, who police believe was intoxicated, was issued a citation for indecent exposure before being allowed to walk to his home about 50 yards away in the 4700 block of East First Avenue.

He was sentenced to 10 days in jail in August for the same crime, according to news archives show.

Reorganization at SCSO

Scrambling to reorganize amid spending cuts, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is moving Sgt. Dave Reagan into a supervisory role over the property crimes division, effective March 1.

Reagan, the longtime public affairs officer and the wit behind many of the double entendres that find their way into some departmental news releases, will continue to serve as primary spokesman for the sheriff, departmental policy and major crimes. Other deputies will be trained to help with day-to-day public affairs.

Raid had ‘toothless’ connection

A sheriff’s raid last week that sought guns stolen from a firearms collector has a connection to the suspected toothless burglar.

Kevin McMaster reportedly told sheriff’s detectives that he’d stolen guns, tools, coin sets and stamps from Kerry Miller’s Newport Highway home with Victor Hackett.

Hackett is the same man thought to have helped suspected toothless burglar Shawn Michael Westlie rob two Quizno’s stores in October.

According to a search warrant, McMaster told detectives that he and Hackett stole the items from Miller, then McMaster sold a gun and stable saw to William H. “Farmer Bill” Gearhart, 47.

Gearhart, who has felony convictions that prevent him from possessing firearms, lives at 4905 E. Deer Park-Milan Road.

Detectives raided that home Jan. 21, along with a home 1311 W. Dalton. Other items from Miller’s home were found at 1621 E. Dalke on Jan. 7, according to a search warrant.

A $1,000 tattoo machine was recovered on Jan. 15, according to the warrant.

No arrests have been made in connection that the raids; investigators said they’re waiting for the prosecutor’s office to file charges.

Past coverage: Sheriff’s raids target stolen guns

18 ounces of meth seized in traffic stop

Sheriff’s deputies seized 18 ounces of methamphetamine in a traffic stop near the Northern Quest Casino parking lot early Tuesday.

A 41-year-old Ritzville man was arrested along with a 19-year-old woman who was with him in his Mazda 626. A deputy monitoring the casino parking lot stopped the Mazda after learning its owner had a suspended license.

The owner wasn’t in the car, but driver David B. Hill was arrested after the deputy learned his license was suspended, too, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies found a small bag of meth in Hill’s pocket along with more than $1,600. In the Mazda were about 18 ounces of methamphetamine, a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol and more than $15,000 in cash, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Passenger Tara Leena Rader of Spangle was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant and is due in Spokane County Superior Court today on one count of felony possession of a controlled substance. Hill is out of jail on bond.

Rader was featured in several Spokesman-Review stories in 2004 after she was shot in the face at close range by her then-boyfriend, Reza Abghari.

Abghari, who said he was pretending to be a gangster when he accidentally shot Rader, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and is back in jail on armed robbery charges for an alleged crime spree last fall.

Previous stories:

Teen girl wounded in accidental shooting

Injured teen faces life-threatening surgery

Man convicted in shooting

Lieutenant accused of drunken driving

A Spokane County sheriff’s lieutenant with 25 years on the job was arrested in a suspected drunken driving crash early Friday.

Liberty Lake police responded to a 911 call about 1:30 a.m. that a sport utility vehicle had rolled near Third and Molter Road and a power pole was blocking the roadway, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Lt. Stephen P. Jones, who was driving a Lincoln Navigator, appeared intoxicated at the scene, so the Washington State Patrol was called in, officials said.

He was taken to a hospital to be treated for a gash to his head, and consented to give blood for the drunken driving investigation.

Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner’s story here.

Fingerprints key in Green Bluff homicide case

Fingerprints lifted from plastic bags on a body near Green Bluff have given detectives their first break in a homicide that’s remained unsolved for more than two months.

Miguel A. Rodriguez-Barbosa, the teenage roommate of 25-year-old victim Jesus Torres Valdovinos (right) has been in Spokane County jail on drug charges since shortly after Valdovinos’ body was found wrapped in a blanket and plastic bags along Day-Mount Spokane Road Oct. 18.

Now Rodriguez-Barbosa, 18, and an acquaintance, Marco Antonio Noriega-Lopez, 27, are considered persons of interest in the homicide of a man described in court documents as a major marijuana dealer.

A love seat sought in the investigation has never been found, but recently filed court documents say Rodriguez-Barbosa told them he removed it Oct. 14 from the Vicksburg Avenue home he shared with the victim after spilling hot sauce on it.

The teen also said a hole in the ceiling above where the love seat had been, which detectives believe was caused by gunfire, had been there for months.

But according to court documents, several witnesses said they’d never seen the hole and claimed the love seat had been there the morning detectives believe Valdovinos was killed, Oct. 17.

Fingerprints found on plastic bags wrapped around Valdovinos’ head match prints belonging to Rodriguez-Barbosa and Noriega-Lopez, according to court documents.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Past coverage:

Homicide victim linked to drug sales

Homicide victim’s roommate arrested on drug charges

Spokane church rammed, ransacked

Here’s a report from Sara Leaming:

A 56-year-old man who investigators say was so upset over a $70 repair bill he rammed his truck into a northeast Spokane church and ransacked the inside was arrested today.

Mark T. Heitman, a parishioner of the Country Crossroads Church at 7011 N. Altamont, allegedly drove his Chevrolet pickup truck into the church building to gain entry Monday night, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

Nearly every window, television, computer and light fixture was smashed during the rampage, which caused thousands of dollars of damage, the church pastor said. The tirade was apparently sparked over a $70 repair bill that the church owed Heitman for some electrical work he had done.

“I tried to pay him with a check and he wouldn’t take a check, so I guess he got mad because I didn’t have any cash here at the time,” said Pastor Dan Eubank. “So I guess he decided to take (the money) another way.”

According to court records, it’s not the first time that Heitman, pictured right in 1996, has faced criminal charges for driving his truck through a building in a rage over money.

Documents show he still owes more than $40,000 in restitution and accrued interest stemming from a January 1996 incident in which the Child Support Enforcement building at 1600 W. Boone Ave. was left heavily damaged when he smashed his truck into it, telling authorities “they were taking all of his money.”

Read the rest of Sara Leaming’s story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Nail salon break-in may have been sexually motivated

A man was caught sleeping on the couch of a Spokane nail salon early Saturday in an alleged burglary detectives think may have been sexually motivated, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The owners of Perfect Nails, 9311 N. Division St., arrived at the business about 9 a.m. Saturday and found the front door smashed out and a man police identified as Matthew S. Kelso, 21, sleeping on a couch.

Kelso was still asleep when police arrived and was “physically taken into custody” after deputies said he refused to show his hands, according to a news release.

Kelso, of Hayden Lake, told deputies his father was a lawyer and declined to speak with them further, according to the sheriff’s office.

“From the appearance of his clothing and other evidence, it appeared the break-in might have been sexually motivated,” the news release said.

Kelso is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on charges of second-degree burglary and second-degree malicious mischief.

He left Spokane County Jail Saturday afternoon after posting $2,000 bond, according to jail records.

Sheriff’s sergeant on leave amid assault case

A Spokane County sheriff’s sergeant has been placed on paid leave pending the filing of a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with a domestic violence dispute.

David Fray was placed on administrative leave late last month after investigators concluded they had probable cause to arrest him on suspicion of assaulting his college-age daughter during a visit in September, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Spokane City Council members agreed Monday to hire a private attorney, Marletta Giles-Ward, to prosecute the case, which was investigated by the Spokane Police Department.

Read the rest of my story here.

8 shots fired at ‘agitated and angry’ gunman

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies fired at least eight shots at a Spokane Valley man who answered the door armed with a gun.

Deputies were called to an apartment at 8910 E. Broadway Ave. on Saturday for a reported domestic dispute.

When authorities arrived, Donald J. Lafavor answered the door armed with a black revolver, and the two deputies fired on him. Investigators found eight spent shell casings in the flower beds outside the apartment, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday.

Six bullet holes were found in the west wall and just south of the door leading into the apartment. Lafavor, 65, remained in serious condition Wednesday at a Spokane hospital.

A woman identified as Kerey M. Edison, 37, was in the bathroom at the time of the shooting.

Edison told police that Lafavor was “agitated and angry” and told her he would point the gun “at whoever was at the door,” records say.

Suspects arrested in home invasion robbery

Masked gunmen pistol whipped a woman in her Spokane Valley apartment late Monday before forcing her into a closet as her child slept in another room.

The men stole a cell phone, TV and computer after demanding marijuana and “everything you have” from the 25-year-old woman, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The late-night home invasion at 12423 E. Mansfield Ave. launched an investigation that saw one suspect arrested during a traffic stop shortly after the robbery and another nabbed by the SWAT team (pictured above) after he was hit with tear gas Tuesday.

Darius D. Toussiant, 18, (pictured right at his first court appearance with Deputy Prosecutor Travis Phelps and Public Defender Kari Reardon) and Glen A. Akers, 19, are in Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree robbery.

Read the rest of my story here.

PC plate gives probable cause for arrest

That didn’t take long.

Assisted by a personalized license plate, Spokane County sheriff’s detectives this morning arrested a man suspected of robbing a Spokane Valley bank on Thursday.

Christopher J. Cook, 42, was booked into jail on one count of first-degree robbery for an incident Thursday at 2:10 p.m. at the American West Bank, 15606 E. Sprague Ave.

The robber fled in a Suzuki with the license plate “PC.”

“As in, ‘probable cause,’” said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Detectives spotted the vehicle about 10:30 a.m. today in the vicinity of 29th Avenue and Ray Street in Spokane and arrested Cook.

Witnesses say Cook didn’t display a gun, nor did he indicate he had one, but unarmed bank robberies can still be charged as first-degree robbery.

Murder plot suspected at county jail

Detectives started monitoring the inmate’s phone calls months ago.

Jailed on assault and robbery charges, Michael L. Olson (left) had fled police after a fiery car crash that killed his girlfriend June 19.

He was arrested that night, accused of stealing a car and assaulting the owner, Christopher T. Fuller, 24.

Now Olson, 31, is suspected to trying to hire his cellmate at the Spokane County Jail to kill Fuller.

Investigators searched Olson’s mother’s home at 3715 N. Audubon St. on Thursday, seizing letters apparently written by Olson that discuss a murder plot, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

The evidence could help support charges of tampering with a witness and criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, according to the warrant.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review. Read a previous story here.

Charges sought in death of boy, 4

Investigators are seeking a vehicular homicide charge against the father of a 4-year-old boy who died near Mount Spokane last summer.

Gerrin P.R. LaFleur died Aug. 19 during a family firewood-gathering trip in the foothills near North Wallis Road and East Elliot Road.

His father, Lester C. LaFleur, told authorities the boy fell from atop his parked 1985 Ford F-250 pickup.

But investigators received conflicting reports of what happened and searched the truck for hair fibers, fingerprints and other evidence to understand the circumstances surrounding the death. An autopsy said the boy died of a bruised and cut right lung, according to court documents. The boy’s uncle says the family feels they’re being treated unfairly. 

Read the rest of my story here. Check past coverage here.

Few leads in Green Bluff homicide

More than two weeks after a major marijuana dealer was found dead near Green Bluff, detectives are working with few leads.

“It’s not a case that we don’t think we can solve,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said today. “We just don’t know how long that’s going to take.”

Still missing is a love seat that was removed from the home of victim Jesus Torres Valdovinos, 25, (right) sometime before the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office searched his home at 63 E. Vicksburg Oct. 20, two days after his body was found by two women walking along Day-Mt. Spokane Road. (See what the love seat looks like here. )

Valdovinos’ roommate, Miguel A. Rodriguez-Barbosa, 18, remains in Spokane County Jail after being arrested Oct. 27 in connection with two-thirds of a pound of marijuana found at the home. Barbosa was living in the country on a VISA and faces deportation for the felony charge. He’s being held with no bail on an immigration order.

He’s also not cooperating with detectives trying to find a storage unit where Valdovinos was said to have stored drugs, guns and money, Reagan said.

Investigators filed search warrants last week seeking call records for phone numbers belongs to Valdovinos and Barbosa as well as call histories for three cellular towers in the area where Valdovinos’ body was found. Another warrant was filed Oct. 29 after detectives realized they’d been given an incorrect number.

Read past coverage here and here.

Heli radar catches man who drove 100 mph

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A sheriff’s helicopter used infrared radar to locate an Airway Heights driver whose speed topped 100 mph early Saturday.

Jared H. Horton, 22, was arrested after abandoning his still-running 1998 Chevy Malibu in a driveway along Lewis Road and running from a home into a marsh, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest came after Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Sciortino tried to pull him over on Sunset Highway near Lewis Road about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

The sheriff’s Air One helicopter located Horton using its “forward-looking radar.”

Horton was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, obstructing a police officer and reckless driving.

Car in ATM theft was stolen from airport

The SUV used in an attempted ATM theft last week was stolen from the Hertz car rental company at Spokane International Airport, according to a search warrant.

A Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy found the 2009 white Infiniti Q56 SUV on Oct. 21 near North Juanita Road and North Kensington Drive, about a half mile from the A-1 Gas & Grocery, 9914 N. Wall St.

Earlier, masked men had used the SUV to break into the store and tried yanking the ATM out with chain attached to the vehicle.

“It does not work on the first attempt and a second is tried. This too fails,” according to the search warrant. “The alarms goes off and the (burglars) flee.”

A woman who lives in the area witnessed the incident and called 911.

The attempted heist matches an incident Oct. 8 in which a masked man backed a truck into a West Plains convenience store and stole money and more than 100 packs of cigarettes. Read about it here.

Craigslist sale leads to stolen police gear

A suspicious camera sale brokered through Craigslist has led the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to a cache of stolen police gear taken from one of its undercover vehicles more than five months ago.

The case began taking shape after a Sandpoint woman called detectives in late September after growing leery of an expensive camera being sold for well under its value by a young man she said knew little about its complicated features.

That man turned out to be Nick A. Peters, investigators say, who used to live near a detective whose unmarked police car was prowled in early May.

Read the rest of my story in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review. I’m out of the office until Monday.

Roommates arrested in thefts, again

It didn’t take long for police to identify two suspects in two recent high school locker rooms thefts.

A couple of surveillance photos of the culprits did the trick.

“We got flooded with tips, not only from law enforcement officers…but just from everywhere that it was Jenalee Hall and Miranda Watson,” said Sgt. John Nowels of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Establishing probable cause to arrest them for the burglaries at East Valley and West Valley high school locker rooms Oct. 2 took a bit more time, but the women’s alleged criminal tendencies apparently helped.

They were picked up Friday accused of trying to steal movies and a customer’s purse at Costco, 3601 E. Sprague Ave.

Arresting officers knew they were suspects in the locker room burglaries in which the culprits escaped in a large white van.

Watson, 25, (right, allegedly) and Hall, 22, (left, allegedly) were in a white van Friday afternoon. Inside, detectives found property they believe ties the two to the burglaries as well as other crimes like vehicles prowlings.

“We’re probably going to end up with multiple felony charges for both of them,” Nowels said.

Also arrested in the case was Watson’s fiancé, Chad Hoyt, 26.

Watson and Hall, Hall, who is related to notorious Spokane criminal Eddie Ray Hall, were described as roommates when they were arrested in May for a string of vehicle prowlings and theft incidents at Spokane Valley and South Hill fitness clubs.

Both women were out on bail when they were arrested in the Costco parking lot last week, according to court records.

Hall posted $5,000 bond on Monday. Watson is being held in jail as a fugitive from Kootenai County, where she’s charged with forgery, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, burglary and attempted possession of a controlled substance, according to court papers.

She also faces prescription forgery charges in Spokane County after employees at the Safeway at 2590 E. 29th said she’d filled three OxyContin prescription in May that they later learned had been forged, according to a probable cause affidavit.

After her arrest Friday, detectives say Watson admitted to a plan to steal movies from Costco and said she and her friends had sat in the store’s parking lot for the past hour “ingesting narcotics,” according to a warrant used to search their van.

Hall’s young son was in the van when the three were arrested, according to the warrant.

Read a previous post here.

Love seat sought in homicide investigation

Detectives are looking for a love seat that was removed from a homicide victim’s home before a search Tuesday, Sgt. Dave Reagan said today.

Jesus J. Torres Valdovinos, 25, (left) was found dead and wrapped in two blankets near Green Bluff Sunday.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said today that he died from a gunshot wound to the head. No arrests have been made.

Detectives had no suspects during a search Tuesday at Valdovinos’ home at 623 E. Vicksburg Ave.

Investigators recovered evidence from the home but did not elaborate. The missing love seat looks exactly like the love seat pictured here. (We are working to get a better photo.)

Read my story here.

County OKs settlement in Taser case

A Spokane County reserve fund will pay some $112,000 to a man who was shocked three times with a Taser by a deputy during a traffic stop in 2004.

County commissioners approved a settlement this week with Spirit Creager, (right) a painter who had sued the county for $5 million in 2006, saying he couldn’t work or sleep for weeks after being jolted by sheriff’s Deputy Chad Ruff.

The county’s risk management reserve fund will also pay $25,000 to Creager’s teenage son, who was in the truck shortly after midnight on Aug. 30, 2004, when it was stopped on Dartford Road.

Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story here.

Karen Dorn Steele wrote an in-depth article on Creager’s claim in June 2006. Read it here.

FBI looking at ‘promising’ tips in bank robbery

The FBI released a video Thursday showing the robbery at a northeast Spokane bank earlier this week.

The robber, wearing in a costume wig and a fake mustache, covered his hand with his sleeve before opening the door, concealing his fingerprints, then forced employees to their knees at gunpoint and bound them with duct tape.

“We have a number of leads that we’re pursuing. Some promising,” FBI agent Frank Harrill said today.

The robbery occurred a few minutes before noon Tuesday. at the INB Bank branch at Hawthrone Road and Nevada Street.

The robber, dressed in a blonde wig and a fake mustache, told the employees to lay on top of golf balls that he said were pressure-sensitive explosives, officials said.

The man was described as a white man in his 30s, wearing a gold-colored glasses with square rims, yellow construction-type boots and a purple and gold hooded poncho with a large front pocket with the word “Stussy” printed in white.

Anyone with information about the robbery should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Spokane bank robber still at large

In a brazen act and shockingly ugly fashion statement, a man in striped purple-and-gold poncho, a blond wig and brown false mustache tied up Spokane bank employees before escaping with cash Tuesday.

The man walked into the INB Bank branch at Hawthorne Road and Nevada Street at about noon, displayed a pistol and forced three bank tellers to their knees and bound them with duct tape, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, sheriff’s spokesman.

The robber forced the employees to lie down, then ran from the building. A white panel van in the parking lot during the robbery may be involved.

The man was described as a white, in his 30s, wearing gold-colored glasses with square rims, and yellow construction-type boots.

Anyone with information about the robbery can call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Big raid finds meth but little else

The raid at two Spokane Valley apartment complexes last week was triggered by a common law enforcement ally: the confidential informant.

Versed in the criminal world and eager to shed criminal charges, the confidential informant typically arranges drug buys using police money, then gives the drugs to police to instigate an investigation.

That’s exactly what happened to Ryan J. Lund, 27, and Robert R. Castillo, 35, who face charges of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Lund was arrested Tuesday; Castillo remains at large.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives thought they would find the men with property believed to have been stolen by a group of 13- and 14-year-olds from apartments in the Pines/I-90 corridor, but they found only a stolen shotgun, a cell phone, a laptop and a small amount of marijuana and methamphetamine, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County District Court.

More than 50 employees from various law enforcement agencies raided four apartments in the 2820 block of North Cherry, including Lund’s, as well as Castillo’s apartment at 9310 E. Montgomery.

The confidential informant bought meth at the locations several times since July, according to the search warrant.

The jackpot turned out to be the three other apartments at North Cherry, though their connection to Castillo and Lund is unclear. In those apartments, police found digital camera, computers, mp3 players, DVD players and tool boxes.

Police suspect the teens involved in burglaries throughout August and traded the items for cash and marijuana, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court. No adults have been charged in that case yet.

Child porn suspect’s home: Hilltop or Helltop?

 The manager of the Hilltop trailer park, where detectives say a man sent child pornography to a New Hampshire police detective he thought was a 14-year-old boy, said raids happen there frequently.

“The owner calls it Helltop,” Larry Mobley said. “We’ve had so many raids in this park it’s unbelievable.”

Still, he never suspected Craig McGuire, 55, would be the next resident arrested as he was this morning.

Read my story here.

In June, a Hilltop resident was arrested on suspicion of setting a fire at the trailer park that threatened homes, business and heavy timber.

Carol J. Haloburdo, 53, was also convicted of setting a grass fire at Hilltop last September. (Read a story on that here.)