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3 linked to 24 Spokane Co. burglaries

Sheriff's investigators believe they've solved 24 residential burglaries in the Spokane County area. 

Members of the Burglary Task Force are recommending 64 felony charges be filed against suspects Jessica L. Davis, 25; Randle “Kyle Phelps, 29; and Jay M. Shippy, 23.

Davis, the alleged ring leader, faces a charge of leading organized crime.

Shippy (pictured) already faces a residential burglary charge for an arrest in April. He was allowed to leave jail on his own recognizance earlier this month, but detectives arrested him again Wednesday on the new burglary charge.

Phelps and Davis are jailed in Bonner County after being arrested there Friday. Davis reportedly told a detective they had moved north and were afraid to burglarize homes in Spokane County because of the recent surge in property crime arrests here.

The charges recommended to the prosecutor's office include residential burglary, theft of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property.

Closing Geiger: Wise or worrisome?

On its face, moving inmates from the Spokane County jail system to a jail in Kennewick solves big problems.

In the short term, local governments would save hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when they’re continuing to deal with difficult budget decisions.

In the long term, it could take pressure off the county to build a new jail to replace the aging Geiger Corrections Center, which county leaders have fought to replace for years with little political success.

But county officials are fighting the potential move, which was sparked by city of Spokane officials who have long battled the county over the daily rates the county charges to hold inmates.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

April 21: Officials say Geiger to close

Alleged sex slave traders released

Four people arrested in what investigators believe is Spokane County’s first human trafficking case were released this weekend because no charges have been filed.

Spokane County sheriff’s investigators still are working on the case against Lawrence Dean Johnson, 43, his wife, Dina K. Tellez, 43; Christopher G. Foster, 33; and Foster’s girlfriend, Shanell L. Haddon, 28.

The suspects were released from the Spokane County Jail because prosecutors did not file charges within three days of their arrest as required by law. They can still be charged, and investigators still are working on charging recommendations for prosecutors.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 24: Sex slave claim leads to 4 arrests

Burglary suspects ‘afraid’ of task force

One of two suspected serial burglars arrested in Oldtown, Idaho, recently told investigators they were afraid to burglarize homes in Spokane County because of the recent surge in property crime arrests here, officials say.

Jessica L. Davis, 25, and Randle “Kyle” Phelps, 29, were followed Friday by members of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Burglary Task Force to a secluded neighborhood near Bead Lake in Pend Oreille County, which has been the target of recnet burglaries.

Task Force members observed two home burglaries and contacted the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office. Patrol deputies helped task force members arrest the two in the parking lot of an Oldtown gas station.

A drug dog with the Bonner County Sheriff's Office detected  something in the vehicle, which led deputies to recover heroin and methadone.

Davis and Phelps were booked into jail on drug charges. Their 2002 Nissan Sentra contained suspected evidence from the burglaries.

Task Force members are working with Pend Oreille investigators to prepare charging recommendations for the burglary sprees.

“Davis made a comment to a BTF investigator that they had gone to the rural area of Pend Oreille County because of the recent and numerous Burglary Task Force arrests and was afraid to commit burglaries in Spokane County,” according to a news release.

Drugs, guns seized near Valley school

Sheriff's investigators arrested a suspected methamphetamine dealer this week after a month's long investigation that yielded not only drugs but three guns.

His Spokane Valley home's backyard is connected to the playground of Trentwood Elementary School.

Gang and drug detectives obtained search warrants for the Eric D. Rangel's home, vehicle and person after a confidential informant bought methamphetamine from Rangel several times.

Police arrested Rangel, 26, Wednesday at East Eighth Avenue and South Carnahan Road in Spokane Valley and seized his car. He had methamphetamine and $3,400 on him, as well as two .9 mm pistols and additional meth in the car.

Detectives searched his home Thursday in the 4900 block of North Calvin Road and seized more meth, as well as heroin, hydrocodone, marijuana, a.12 gauge shotgun and .9 mm ammunition.

Rangel told detectives he sells meth in the Valley, according to a news release by Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

He also admitted to leaving a stolen firearm in a motel room where he'd briefly stayed. Deputies had recently recovered the firearm, which Rangel said he'd obtained in exchange for meth.

Rangel has felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing weapons.

Suspected serial burglar gets 9 years

One of two brothers suspected in a series of Spokane County burglaries has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Donald G. Myhren, 30, pleaded guilty to residential burglary for a break-in last year and was sentenced this week to 108 months. He still faces additional robbery and burglary charges for break-ins at home this spring, along with his brother, Dustin J. Myhren, 26.

The men were out of jail awaiting trial for last year's case when detectives arrested them for the new burglaries in April. Investigators reviewing burglary reports noticed that the description of suspects in a series of Spokane County burglaries matched the brothers, and that a suspect vehicle was registered at their address.

They've both been jailed on $250,000 bond ever since and are scheduled to begin trial July 16 for the latest burglaries, some of which included the theft of sports cards.

Donald Myhren resolved last year's case Monday in Spokane County Superior Court; Dustin's still is pending.

Jodie Sinclair, whose home was burglarized by the brothers last year said she walked into her home to find one of the brothers running through her living room. The home was ransacked. Her husband chased after the man and his brother “and they in turned pulled a gun to get him to back off,” Sinclair said in an email.

The brothers are accused of again confronting a homeowner at a gunpoint just months ago.

Sinclair said she was disappointed in the sentence and said she hopes the pending robbery and burglary charges will put Myhren away for much longer.

“The material items he took that day can be replaced for the most part,” she said. “But what he stole from us is our sense of security and ability to feel comfortable in our own home.”

Sex slave claims lead to four arrests

A frightened young woman’s descriptions of being held captive and sold for sex at drug houses and motels over the past year has led to several arrests in what’s believed to be Spokane County’s first human trafficking case.

Lawrence Dean Johnson, 43, his wife, Dina K. Tellez, 43; Christopher G. Foster, 33; and Shanell L. Haddon, 28, who is Foster’s girlfriend, are in the Spokane County Jail as prosecutors consider formal charges against them.

Dave Skogen, a detective with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday that more victims could be identified.

Foster denied the allegations in an interview with The Spokesman-Review from jail Thursday evening.

“They should get a psychiatric evaluation done on this chick,” Foster said. “Then the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will realize what a big mistake they’ve made.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Man nets 2nd police chase in 3 weeks

A Spokane man arrested at gunpoint after a police chase three weeks ago was picked up again Tuesday morning after another chase with law enforcement.

 A profusely sweaty Michael S. Wheeler, 38, was taken to a hospital after he told a sheriff's deputy he had eaten an unknown amount of cocaine when he was arrested near Argonne and Bruce roads, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Ryan Truman tried to stop Wheeler after spotting he and his passenger “frantically” moving and reaching under the front seats when he approached their parked Jeep Cherokee just north of Hastings Road about 4:30 a.m.

Truman noted a damaged steering column and a punched ignition with a screwdriver sitting on the vehicle's center console. Dispatch reported the car was stolen, and Truman ordered an already “very agitated” Wheeler and passenger Jamie Burdeau, 22, out of the vehicle, the sheriff's office said.

Wheeler instead put the Jeep in reverse and struck a shed, fence and a “junk car” as he fled, officials say. Truman and other deputies found the Jeep abandoned in the area of 3rd Avenue and Railroad Street in Mead. Burdeau was spotted walking near the vehicle and told deputies Wheeler had run east. She later said she and Wheeler had been waiting for a meth dealer when Truman approached them, the sheriff's office said.

A Spokane police K-9 found Wheeler's gray hooded sweatshirt near the Jeep.  Patrol officers found Wheeler at Argonne and Bruce roads, where he was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and felony eluding. Burdeau was arrested on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Wheeler also faces a third-degree assault charge for allegedly striking a security guard at Holy Family Hospital while running from sheriff's deputies. Deputies said Wheeler ran from them after saying “Have you ever been to jail? It sucks,” according to court records. Wheeler was shocked with a Taser as he struggled to get away from the deputies.

Wheeler was arrested May 3 after a high-speed chase with a state wildlife officer in a stolen car while high on methamphetamine, according to court documents. He was released from jail when prosecutors didn't file charges within three days.

Wheeler also was wanted by Crime Stoppers when he rammed a sheriff’s patrol car in December 2010 while successfully eluding a deputy. Read more here.

‘Secret Shopper’ loses $1,000 in fraud

Authorities are reminding people to be cautious when responding to purported “Secret Shopper” and other offers through email or phone after a Spokane Valley woman lost nearly $1,000.

The woman told a sheriff's deputy on Monday that she responded to an email asking if she would like to participate in the Secret Shopper program. She received a FedEx envelope on May 11 with a money order for $980, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

She also received an email explaining that she was to deposit the money order into her bank account, withdraw $805 and send it via Western Union to Tony Adams at 40 Arsene Rd., Quezon City, Manila.  She was told to keep $175.

The woman's bank notified her on May 19 that the money order was no good and that she was responsible for the $980. She received additional money orders in her mailbox that day with instructions to send money to Johnnie Swift in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Mike Michon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Joe Cole from Novi, Michigan.

$40k in copper stripped from building

About $40,000 worth of copper was stolen from a business in Spokane Valley last weekend.

A manager of a building in the 4600 block of East Sprague Avenue that's used as a trailer storage told a sheriff's deputy on Monday that he noticed insulation on the floor on Saturday but assumed it was because of the age of the building.

But when he returned on Monday, he saw electrical wire missing from the ceiling and realized all copper wiring inside the walls and ceiling of the building had been stolen. All copper piping in the building was missing as well.

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

Man arrested for DUI, drugs after crash

A man described by sheriff's deputies as “extremely intoxicated” crashed his Jeep Cherokee into trees near Handy and Hatch roads in Colbert early Saturday.

Warren Anderson, 22, said he couldn't remember how much he had to drink but “it was a lot,” the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said today. Anderson had a pill in a piece of burned foil that he said he was a “Roxi” but also said “that he did not really know what he was smoking,” the sheriff's office said.

Deputy Chad Ruff determined the pill was the narcotic Roxicodone. He and Deputy Scott Kenoyer contacted Anderson after responding to the one-car crash about 4:30 a.m.

A witness told dispatcher he'd seen the Jeep at the intersection of Handy and Hatch about a half an hour earlier, and the driver was sitting in the driver's seat not moving. He saw the Jeep crashed when he drove back through the intersection.

Deputies said they smelled a strong odor of intoxicants as they approached the Jeep. They said Anderson refused to exit the vehicle but “was placed under arrest” for drunken driving and began to cooperate, according to the sheriff's office.

Anderson was booked into jail on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Teen arrested after Valley police chase

A juvenile was arrested for felony eluding police after a chase in Spokane Valley this morning.

The boy, whose age was not released, was speeding through a parking lot in the area of East Sprague Avenue and North Pines Road about 2 a.m. when sheriff's deputy Jason Karnitz followed him and observed several other traffic violations, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Karnitz tried to stop the car near Pines and Valleyway Road, but the driver fled on Valleyway. Karntiz terminated the pursuit near Valleyway and Adams Road, but the boy continued speeding and crashed into a fence at the intersection.

The boy ran east, but a sheriff's K-9, Gordy, found him hiding under brush nearby. He told Karntiz he was “walking home from work, heard all the sirens and decided to hide because he was scared, the sheriff's office said.
  

Gunman arrested for road rage encounter

A man threatened three people with a gun during a road rage incident on Wednesday, police said today.

Jarred Woods, 30, was contacted by a Spokane County sheriff's deputy after his alleged victims provided 911 dispatch with his license plate number.

The victims, a man and two juvenile females, said they were driving south on Argonne Road near Wellesley Avenue when they passed Woods' vehicle and he swerved to the left, causing them to nearly swerve into oncoming traffic, according to the sheriff's office.

Woods then displayed a handgun and yelled at the victims as they called 911, the sheriff's office said.

Woods has a concealed weapons permit.

A deputy called his phone after running his license plate number and located him in the area of Argonne and Trent Avenue. He was contacted there and first said he only kept the gun in his trunk, but then admitted it to pointing it at the occupants of another vehicle because he feared the driver, according to the sheriffs office.

A .40 caliber Baretta handgun was seized from the trunk of Woods' vehicle. He was arrested on three counts of intimidation with a firearm.
  

J. Bieber arrested in Spokane

A Spokane woman is accused of stealing from a man who let her use his bathroom while helping her jump her car.

Jennifer Mae Bieber, alias Christensen, was arrested Tuesday after a Spokane Valley police detective revisited the theft report from January and developed probable cause to charge her with fist-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Bieber, 30, is accused of selling a battery charger she stole from a Good Samaritan in January.  The victim saw that Bieber was unable to start her Pontiac Grand Am after a traffic stop near 811 S. Union Road and offered to assist her with jumper cables, a battery charger and a his Cadillac.

The man said Bieber used the bathroom then was instructed to quickly leave by her male companion. The victim discovered his house keys and car keys missing, then discovered his garage entered and a snow blower missing a couple days later.

He identified Bieber from a photo montage last month. Detectives discovered Bieber pawned the battery charger at Axel's Pawn the day it was sotlen, which led to the felony charge.

2 arrested for burglary in Valley

Sheriff's deputies arrested two men on suspicion of burglary Wednesday after a neighbor called to report two suspicious men in the backyard of a home.

Jimmie Matthew Allen, 34, and Mark Alan Short, 41, were arrested in the 5200 block of North Kenney Road after deputies arrived at the home and saw two back doors open and heard noise inside the home, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Allen exited the home and was arrested. Short initially refused to exit but did so after sheriff's K-9 Ekko arrived.
Members of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office Burglary Task Force interviewed the suspects and concluded they were burglarizing the home when deputies arrived.

Task force members found evidence from the burglary at Allen's home, which is near the victim's home.
The victim homeowner responded to Allen's home and identified property stolen from her home, according to the sheriff's office.

The investigation is ongoing; more suspects are expected to be charged.

Allen and Short were booked into jail for residential burglary and Allen also faces a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
  

2 arrested on drug fraud charges in Valley

Two suspected prescription drug forgers were arrested Monday night after a chase with police in Spokane Valley.

Employees at a pharmacy in the 15700 block of East Broadway Avenue told police about 8:45 p.m. Monday that a woman attempted to fill an Oxycodone prescription written on a pad that had been reported stolen from a doctor's office, but left when she was told they would need to verify the prescription with the doctor, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies spotted a woman and man running through the parking lot and detained them for questioning. Nicole Wright, 27, said she was filling a prescription for a friend, but deputies cold find no record of the friend's name.

The other suspect, Coby Adams, 33, stepped on a scrap of paper that fell out of his pocket and slid it under a patrol car, but deputies retrieved it and discovered it was “the same stolen prescriptions Wright presented at the pharmacy, all for Oxycodone, all prescribed to Wright,” according to a news release.

Wright and Adams were booked into jail on charges of prescription fraud and second-degree possession of stolen property.

Sex offender moves near Opportunity Elementary

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office sent out a notification yesterday that level 3 sex offender Joseph R. Wheeler, 34, has moved to the 1300 block of South Robie Road near Opportunity Elementary School. A level 3 offender is considered the most likely to reoffend. Wheeler was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2004. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details (and a photo) here.  

Homeowner shoots, kills intruder

Doug Snarski knew someone was going to die when he realized his girlfriend’s ex was inside their home early Sunday.

The intruder, Sean Parsons, was armed with a shotgun, a handgun, a belt stocked with ammunition and yelling about how no one would be getting out of the house alive. Parsons had arrived at the Newman Lake home about 12:30 a.m. - just hours after he’d been served with a restraining order that prohibited him from going within two miles of the house.

“He didn’t come here to get on my Christmas list,” Snarski said Monday at his home, where he’s lived for 27 years. “He was on a mission to kill.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Tire store employee walks up on theft

A tire store employee wary of recent thefts and a suspicious truck parked near the business led sheriff's deputies to a theft and drug suspect and a stolen vehicle from Lincoln County.

The employee saw two tires being placed into the bed of the truck from a trailer parked next to it, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

He told a man and woman walking from the trailer that he'd called police; neither said anything as they walked in separate directions.

Deputy R. Truman responded and saw the man walking on Stevens Street. The man provided a false name, but Truman identified him as Mark Alan Gregory, 51. Gregory told Truman he had a warrant out for his arrest, and he was right. Gregory was arrested on the warrant for possession of a controlled substance and said he'd been at the tire business with his a friend to steal tires, the sheriff's office said.

Gregory also told Truman “there is some meth in my pocket.  I found it on the ground.  It's not mine,” according to the sheriff's office. Truman found a small bag in Gregory's front pocket containing meth.

He was booked into jail on the warrant, a new meth charge and new charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and third-degree theft.

Jailer catches vehicle prowling suspect

A corrections deputy caught a man prowling a county-owned vehicle early Saturday outside the jail, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Suspect David Allen Mackin, 21, was arrested after Deputy Mark Sprecher saw him getting out of a county vehicle parked about 4:10 a.m. in a lot on the east side of the jail, where Sprecher had just finished his shift.

Mackin ran east toward Monroe Street, but Sprecher followed him in his vehicle and caught up with him in the YMCA parking lot on the east side of Monroe Street near the Public Safety Building.

Sprecher told the Mackin he was a sheriff's employee, called 911 and stayed with the suspect until police arrived.

Mackin was booked into jail on a charge of second-degree vehicle prowling. He was released alter that morning on his own recognizance per a judge's order.
  

Newman Lake resident kills intruder

A 911 operator heard gunshots over an open line at about 1 a.m. Sunday when a Newman Lake homeowner reportedly shot an intruder, according to a Spokane County Sheriff's Office press release. Deputies found a the man lying at the top of a set of stairs inside the home, the release said. The man will be identified after an autopsy is completed today. An investigation is ongoing; click here for more details.

Man arrested for grocery store robberies

A man suspected of robbing four grocery stores in Spokane County was arrested Wednesday. 

Daniel W. Drake, 38, reportedly admitted to robbing three Safeway stores and one Rosauers store in Spokane and Spokane Valley recently, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Drake is allegedly pictured fleeing the Safeway store on Wellesley Avenue after a robbery Monday.

Detectives received tips that helped them identify Drake within hours of the Sheriff's Office releasing that surveillance photo and others Tuesday.

Court documents show Drake's sister, father and mother told police they were positive the man pictured was Drake.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team assisted detectives from both agencies in locating Drake. They found him at a motel after nine hours of surveillance, then arrested him in the area of Argonne Road and Montgomery Avenue without incident.

Drake is accused of robbing Safeway at 14020 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley May 2, as well as the Shadle Park Safeway, 2507 W. Wellesley Ave., May 7.

The other robberies occurred April 29 at Safeway at 933 E. Mission Ave. in Spokane and the Rosaurers at 2610 E. 29th Ave. on May 7 about 2:30 p.m., just two hours before the Shadle Park robbery. No money was actually stolen in the Rosaurers case.

Drake is to appear in Spokane County Superior Court via video from the jail, where he's booked on four counts of second-degree robbery.

“The Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit has recently assigned a detective to investigate all robbery reports that are taken,” sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release. “The ability to assign a lead detective to these crimes has been, and will continue to be, imperative in solving these types of crimes and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Spokane County.”

2 burglary suspects arrested in Valley

Two suspected burglars were arrested at a Spokane Valley home Monday after a neighbor called 911 because she didn't recognize them.

Steven Edward Cunningham, 56, and Jasmine Owens, 37, were contacted inside a home in the area of 7100 E. 3rd Ave. Deputies saw a circuit break box torn apart and copper wire lying on the floor.

Cunningham said the homeowner told him he could take the box and use it in his home, but he gave four names for the homeowner when asked, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Matt Gould called the homeowner and confirmed the pair did not have permission to be in the home.

A neighbor had already called the homeowner to report the suspicious people. The homeowner instructed the neighbor to call 911.

Cunningham and Owens were arrested for residential burglary.

List being compiled of discredited officers

Spokane law enforcement officials for the first time are compiling a list of officers and deputies who have a record of lying or who have been discredited while doing their jobs.

The so-called “Brady list” is part of a legal requirement to notify defense lawyers of any information that could be used to challenge the credibility of investigators.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Pics show suspect in Safeway robberies

Police believe the same man robbed two Safeway stores in the Spokane area recently, and they're asking for help identifying him.  

Surveillance photos (above and below, left) released by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office today show the suspect at WalMart before detectives say he robbed the Safeway at 14020 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley on May 2.

Another photo (right) shows the robber just after he left the Shadle Park Safeway on Monday.

In the first robbery, a man described as white, in his 30s with short hair and a medium build placed a backpack at the customer service counter and ordered an employee to fill it with money. The victim was under the impression the man had a weapon in the bag, according to the sheriff's office. 

Detectives located the man's discarded clothing and tracked them to a WalMart store where he's believed to have been before the robbery.

The same man is believed to have robbed the Safeway in the Shadle Park area, 2507 W. Wellesley Ave., about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help identify the man. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Law enforcement memorial held today

Two names were added today to the law enforcement memorial outside Spokane's Public Safety Bu9lding:

U.S. Park Ranger Margaret Anderson and Washington State Patrol trooper Tony Radulescu.  Anderson was shot to death Jan. 1 by a fugitive who later killed himself.

Radulescu was shot to death during a traffic stop Feb. 23 in Western Washington.

Their names were added as part of the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.

Law enforcement from Spokane County and across the state gathered to remember those who have died in the line of duty.

Today's speakers included WSP Chief John Batiste and U.S. Marshal Craig Thayer.

The ceremony proceeded a law enforcement memorial breakfast. View photos of the events here and here.

New details on chaplain in exposure case

A pastor and volunteer sheriff’s chaplain exposed himself to a former church member after showing up at her home in a long orange skirt and telling her he’d lost a bet, officials allege.

The Rev. Robert C. Christian, 61, turned himself into the Spokane County Jail Friday and was released. He faces a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure in Spokane Municipal Court.

Christian, who has been fired as a chaplain, initially denied the allegations when questioned by lead sheriff’s chaplain Curt Quaschnick after a police report was filed in March, according to court documents obtained Monday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Burglary suspect picks wrong pawn shop

A burglary suspect was arrested Tuesday after a sheriff's detective recognized him at a Spokane pawn shop.

Detective Justin Elliot was at Goldbay at 1505 N. Ash St., when he saw Christopher J. Steinbaugh enter the store and receive $115 from the owner.

Elliot recognized Steinbaugh as a suspect in a burglary being investigated by Deputy Eric Epperson. The shop's owner told Elliot that Steinbaugh had sold jewelry at the store the previous day and had come back in to receive the rest of his payment.

Elliot followed Steinbaugh from the store and called Epperson, who confirmed Steinbaugh still was wanted for burglary. Elliot also learned Steinbaugh's license was suspended. Deputies responded and arrested Steinbaugh near a home at 1211 N. Oak St.

Elliot returned to Goldbay and seized the items Steinbaugh  had sold there as possible evidence of burglary and stolen property trafficking.

The Ford Explorer Steinbaugh was driving had a stolen license plate.

Deputies responded to the Oak Street home that was associated with Steinbaugh. There, they arrested Brian R. Vavra, 35, on suspicion of threats to kill and discovered a money clip on him that matched a clip Steinbaugh had sold at Goldbay.

That led deputies to obtain a search warrant for the residence. A 7-year-old girl was taken into protective custody by CPS.  Deputies also seized suspected stolen property.

Steinbaugh, who has previous felony convictions for identity theft, was booked into jail on a residential burglary charge. He could face more charges. He was arrested in March for meth possession after a police chase.

Phone scam targets Spokane businesses

Spokane businesses are being targeted for cash in a scheme that involves someone posing as a jailer to collect bail bond money for a supposedly arrested employee.

At least three businesses today reported phone calls from a man claiming to be a sheriff's corrections deputy seeking bail money for an employee jailed for a drunken driving crash, said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The son of the owner of Dewey's Burgers and Brews on North Division Street was at the bank trying to withdraw money when a bank employee grew suspicious of the scenario, Chamberlin said.

Earlier today, a man claiming to be James Sullivan with a sheriff's personnel number of 6331 tried to get $1,600 from another local business owner. The man told the owner he couldn't give the owner the employee's name because of privacy laws but said he could provide a general description and that if he guessed the name, he would confirm if he or she was in custody.

The owner offered a name and the man confirmed and said he was in jail for drunken driving and for the crash and needed $16,000 to get out, or a $1,600 payment through a bail bond company.

The owner withdrew $2,000 and the man stayed on the phone for more than an hour as the owner went to a WalMart to send the money in two $800 money orders. The man requested one be sent to Nichole and the other to Seth Thomas in Florida, then hung up when the owner said he would only send the money to an actual business.

Sheriff's officials confirmed no employee by the name of James Sullivan exists. Corrections deputies are not authorized to contact people to set up bond agreements.

Anyone who is targeted by the scam is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
  

Passed-out driver nets 6 felony charges

A report of a driver passed out in a running Honda with its trunk open and windows fogged up led to the arrest of a 28-year-old man on six felony charges early Saturday, police said today.

Randy Lee Jensen, Jr., could not tell if he was OK and if he knew where he was parked when deputies contacted him in the area of 6000 E. 9th Ave. about 4 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

A homeowner called police to report the vehicle parked in his driveway. He said he didn't know who it belonged to but believed the driver was passed out.

Turns out the Honda had been reported stolen April 22, and Jensen had a warrant for driving on a suspended license.

Deputies found a clear plastic bag with Oxycodone in Jensen's right front jeans pocket. They also found several vehicle registrations, credit cards, driver's licenses, gift cards and military IDs that did not belong to Jensen, the sheriff's office said.

The items were stolen in several vehicle prowlings. Jensen had a shaved key in the ignition, along with a key chain with other shaved keys.

He was booked into jail on six felony identity and theft related charges, as well as the misdemeanor driving warrant. He remains there on $15,750 bond after appearing in court Monday. That includes $5,000 bond for an unrelated car theft case from January.