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Nebraska warrant issued for Barefoot Bandit

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) — Police have issued an arrest warrant for a teen burglar known as “The Barefoot Bandit” after surveillance cameras apparently captured images of him at a northeast Nebraska airport the same day that an SUV was stolen from there.

Police have also collected fingerprints that could link 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore to the theft of the Cadillac Escalade from the municipal airport near Norfolk earlier this month, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

The vehicle later turned up nearly 240 miles away in Pella, Iowa. The affidavit said police believe Harris-Moore was also involved in the theft of a car from Yankton, S.D. — which turned up in Norfolk — and another vehicle taken from a small airport near Pella.

Harris-Moore, a 6-foot-5 fugitive from Camano Island, Wash., escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle in April 2008.

Authorities believe he has since broken into dozens of homes and committed numerous burglaries across the Northwest, stealing boats, cars and even small airplanes, including a theft at the Boundary County Airport last year.

Norfolk detectives sent the surveillance video they believe shows Harris-Moore from the Norfolk airport to the Seattle office of the FBI and the Island County, Wash., Sheriff’s Department.

The Nebraska warrant charges Harris-Moore with burglary and theft. Harris-Moore, whose nickname arose from his penchant for committing crimes without shoes, has become notorious, with a Facebook fan page that boasts more than 42,000 followers.

Rolling Stone magazine also published a story on his exploits in May.

Past coverage:

June 22: Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Midwest?

June 3: $50,000 for Barefoot Bandit’s surrender

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Oct. 2: Stolen plane may be the work of teen bandit

Felon admits to bilking DSHS of $96,000

A man admitted today to defrauding the state Department of Health and Social Services of nearly $100,000. 

Robert J. Childress, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft. 

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno approved a plea deal that dropped a dozen other charges and sentenced Childress (pictured in May 2009) to the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.

That means Childress, a previously convicted felon, will serve two years in prison and two years under state supervision.

The case began when cameras caught him stealing an iPhone from the Airway Heights Wal-Mart on Jan. 23, 2009, then cashing a check in another area of the store. Detectives searched his Airway Heights home and found stacks of blank checks, driver’s licenses, credit cards, stolen mail and two felons wanted by Crime Stoppers.

Childress told the newspaper he woke up “and those things were in my house with a bunch of people I didn’t know.”

At one point, his attorney filed a motion seeking an insanity defense, but withdrew it after Childress started taking his medications. Childress said in court today that he began taking OxyContin during treatment for a 2007 crash that put him in a wheelchair “and that’s how all this happened.”

The fraud conviction stemmed from Childress receiving $96,000 worth of benefits from DHSH while he was also receiving funds from worker’s compensation from the state, Deputy Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi said in court.

Spokane duo arraigned in vintage car heist

Two convicted felons accused of a burglary in which an antique Ford car was stolen pleaded not guilty this week in Spokane County Superior Court.

The suspects, Susan Burke, 48, and Shane P. Venziano, 34, (pictured in 2006) were arrested June 7 after police found them inside a home at 2615 W. Dean. A neighbor had called to report a black 1954 Ford car missing from the garage.

“It hasn’t been driven since 1975,” said owner Benjamin L. Franklin, 59, who doesn’t live at the home. Franklin’s grandfather bought the car new in 1954. “It’s something I remember riding in when I was 5 years old.” 

Police connected the heist to a Spokane tow shop owner after Burke said the car had been stolen by her daughter and a man named Richard who owns tow shop. 

“They came prepared,” Franklin said. “They took it on a flat-bed truck.”

Police identified the man as Richard D. Ziesmer, who owns Pacific Towing, 4028 E. Central, and has talked to police on several occasions, according to court documents.

Detectives found the truck at Ziesmer’s shop.

“Ziesmer admitted that he bought the vehicle knowing that it was likely stolen,” according to court documents. “Ziesmer could not say who he bought it from.”

Ziesmer did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The antique car sustained damage on the front fender and driver door during the theft, Franklin said. Franklin got the car back after three days and plans to restore it and drive it again.

Venziano, who police say was arrested with a vintage White Chief tape measure and gold spoon stolen from the home, and Burke pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of residential burglary each and are out of jail on bond.

Both are convicted felons, including a manslaughter conviction against Venziano for the 2000 death of 17-year-old Carlosse Brown. Venziano was sentenced to 100 months in prison.

Ziesmer, 46, was arrested June 10 and left jail on $5,000 bond June 14. He was to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of second-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but no charges have been filed.

Ziesmer was involved in a dispute over a car trade last fall that police say ended with 28-year-old Merle W. Harvey shooting Jacob J. Potter and Jack Lamere to death in September.

Ziesmer worked with Lamere and told The Spokesman-Review that Harvey had left him a voice message threatening him and Lamere over a trade involving a Blazer and Cadillac. He offered a $1,500 reward for Harvey’s capture.

Tips sought on 3 Spokane Valley burglaries

Police are looking for tips on recent burglaries at two Spokane Valley child care centers and a coffee stand.

Someone stole a Dell laptop computer from Kindercare, 422 N. Mullan Road, between 6:30 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday.

About that same time, someone stole an HP Compaq laptop and two Dell laptops from Early Learning Center at 10304 E. Ninth Avenue.

Earlier, McVay Brothers, 11420 E. Montgomery, was burglarized between 5 p.m. June 11 and 6 a.m. June 14 when someone used a rock to smash out a window, the stole a 37-inch TV, a computer monitor and a Direct TV receiver box.

Police do not know if the burglaries are related.

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

Has the Barefoot Bandit hit the Midwest?

SEATTLE (AP) — Police in the Midwest are investigating whether an infamous teen burglar from Washington state is behind a string of break-ins and car thefts, officials said Monday. Colton Harris-Moore, a 6-foot-5 19-year-old from Camano Island, Wash., escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle in April 2008.

Since then, authorities believe he’s been responsible for numerous burglaries at vacation homes and businesses around the Northwest, and that he’s stolen boats, cars and even a few small airplanes, including one from the Boundary County Airport in North Idaho.

A family in Yankton, S.D., found a tall man in their home last Friday, Assistant Police Chief Jerry Hisek said. They didn’t get a good look at him because the house was dark, and the family couldn’t identify Harris-Moore in photos. But the suspect did shave or cut his hair at the home, and investigators have sent that evidence to a state crime lab for DNA analysis, Hisek said.

A car stolen from Yankton turned up 60 miles south at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk, Neb., on Sunday, said Norfolk Police Capt. Steven Hecker. Another car — a Cadillac Escalade — was taken from Karl Stefan Memorial Airport nearby and turned up 240 miles east, in Pella, Iowa, on Monday.

Another car was taken from a small airport near Pella, Hecker said.

The Pella Police Department declined to comment on Monday, and Hecker said authorities don’t know whether the suspect is Harris-Moore.

“We weren’t familiar with this guy, but we certainly are now,” Hecker said.

The last trace of Harris-Moore in Washington state was over Memorial Day weekend, when he left $100 at a veterinary clinic in the southwestern town of Raymond along with a note that said: “Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals Colton Harris-Moore (AKA: ‘The Barefoot Bandit’) Camano Island, WA.”

Harris-Moore, who has more than 41,000 Facebook fans, earned the moniker by committing some of his crimes barefoot. Police confirmed his fingerprints were on the note.

Police in Oregon are investigating whether Harris-Moore is to blame for a series of crimes on June 1, when a stolen boat from southwestern Washington turned up in Warrenton, Ore.

A car was stolen from a nearby airport later that day.

“Seems like he’s always a day or two ahead of us,” Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said Monday. “His luck’ll run out.”

Past coverage:

June 3: $50,000 for Barefoot Bandit’s surrender

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Tips sought on highway safety sign thefts

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify the thieves who stole batteries from construction zone signs in the Highway 395 and North Spokane Corridor.

The thefts, which occurred between 9 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday, rendered the two reader boards useless until a construction company paid $1,200 to replace them.

The reader boards, one located at Hastings Road and the other at Dartford Road, alert motorists to lane restrictions and other roadway hazards created by the construction.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Charges filed in gravesite flower thefts

Felony charges have been filed against a Spokane man accused of stealing Memorial Day flowers from gravesites and selling them outside his home.

Robert P. Sullivan, 45, is due in court this month after prosecutors filed second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property charges against him last week.

Sullivan is suspected of stealing at least 150 plants from the Holy Cross Cemetery, 7200 N.Wall, between June 4 and June 6. The flowers had been sold for $25 to families of the deceased in honor of Memorial Day.

A cemetery employee spotted a woman who lives with Sullivan, Deborah Decicio, selling the flowers outside their home at 2630 N. Stevens on June 7. Decicio has not been charged. Stevens reportedly admitted the theft to Officer Traci Douglas on June 8, according to an affidavit. A witness told police his daughter had seen someone loading potted plants into a green van at the cemetery; Sullivan owns a green van.

Past coverage:

June 9: Suspect identified in gravesite flower heists

June 8: Dozens of planters stolen from graves

Cop leaving work bags burglary suspect

A teenager was arrested Thursday after a police detective leaving work spotted him prowling a business near the Spokane Valley police precinct on East Sprague, then found a burglary victim’s bank cards and driver’s license in his back pack.

Tyler J. Keiper, 19, is accused of stealing the items from a garbage in the 12800 block of East Fourth Avenue.

Valley police Detective-Cpl. Jeff Welton called the woman after confronting Keiper and searching his backpack, and they determined the burglar had moved a car blocking the garage, then moved the woman’s Harley Davidson motorcycle outside. The burglar then ransacked boxes, stealing the bank cards, identification and jewelry, according to a news release.

Keiper gave the jewelry to his mother, police said, “telling her not to worry about where it came from.”

At Welton’s request, the mother drove to the scene and returned the bag of jewelry,” according to a news release.

Keiper was booked into jail on charges of second-degree burglary, attempted theft of a motor vehicle and three counts of second-degree theft.

He already was wanted on a warrant for possession of a controlled substance, according to Crime Stoppers. He’s due in Superior Court today.

Developer pleads not guilty to theft

A once-prominent Spokane land developer pleaded not guilty to several felonies related to an alleged drug and stolen property ring investigators believe he ran from his Long Lake home.

Joseph G. Ward, 62, founder of Pinnacle Realty, is charged with two counts of first-degree theft, seven counts of first-degree possession of stolen property and one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle connected to a SWAT team raid at his Long Lake home on Jan. 7, 2009.

Ward was arrested that day and spent the night in jail. Washington State Patrol spent months on an investigation into alleged criminal activity ranging from insurance fraud and stolen property possession to major methamphetamine trafficking and videotaped orgies with prostitutes.

After his arrest, Ward thanked the State Patrol for stopping “something that I couldn’t stop myself,” according to court documents, and said he’d be taking daily drug tests to help stay clean.

Ward and his lawyer, Richard Bechtolt, declined comment after the arraignment.Ward is at right, Bechtolt is at left.

Past coverage

March 22, 2010: Police seek developer’s associate

Oct. 12, 2009: Shooting at Ward’s home gets man 4 months

Sept. 30, 2009: Details emerge in probe of developer

June 26, 2009: Felon suspected of WSP lot break-in

Jan. 18, 2009: Realtor’s arrest highlights perils of meth

Tips sought on Wal-Mart wallet snatchers









Police are looking for tips on two women caught on tape using a food stamp card from a wallet lost in the Wal-Mart parking lot earlier this month.

The victim dropped the wallet about 2 a.m. June 6 in the lot at 9212 North Colton Ave., then reported it to Wal-Mart employees.

The next day, the victim’s food stamp card was used at the nearby Winco.

Surveillance video captured images of two women using the card at Winco, 9257 N. Nevada St.

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

Gamblers plead not guilty in $540,000 theft

A Spokane couple who described themselves to police as successful gamblers are accused of stealing nearly $540,000 from a Spokane rental agency.

George L. and Kathy A. Bagwell pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree theft today.

The couple had worked for real estate owner Rex Williams since 2001; they took over management of his Spokane assets after after his parachute failed to open and he fell to his death during a skydiving excursion in Texas in March 2008.

But the charges recently filed in Superior Court allege the theft began while Williams was still alive. The couple is accused of stealing $151,945 in 2007. Further charges allege they stole $242,642 in 2008 and $151,672 in 2009.

The Bagwells are described as heavy gamblers who frequented Northern Quest Casino at least twice a week. Both have extensive tattoo work court documents imply may have been paid for with stolen cash. Williams’ son-in-law Adams Pospychala, told police George Bagwell, 43, bragged about his gambling.

“George bragged about expenditures including a Jet Ski, fighting show tickets and tattoo conventions in Las Vegas,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in May. The affidavit says the couple withdrew nearly $25,000 from casino ATMs between February 2008 and June 2009. George Bagwell dropped $334,031 in Northern Quest slot machines between January 2007 and July 2009;l Kathy Bagwell, 37, placed $104,216, court documents say.

They claimed $20,000 in winnings on 2008 tax forms, and $10,000 on 2007 taxes.

The Williams family owns three apartment complexes in northeast Spokane with 304 apartments: the Lyons Crest, the Lyons Glenn and the Lyons Ridge apartments. In summer 2009, Williams’ daughter Chaundra Williams-Pospychala noticed a sharp drop in cash flow from the properties — $30,000 to $50,000 a month since at least April 2009. She then noticed the Bagwells accepting rent payments in cash without depositing the money. Police began searching the Bagwells’ bank records shortly after.

A civil suit against the Bagwells is set for trial in September.

Kathy Bagwell described herself to police as “a very successful gambler.”

In an interview with police, George Bagwell “appeared tearful” and “expressed their great fondness of Rex Williams,” according to court documents.

He reportedly said Rex allowed them to take $6,000 from rent money “in order to qualify for their home mortgage.”

“George claimed the owners demanded they manipulate the rent rolls in order to look good for the bank,” according to the affidavit. “George said money has been very tight since the kids took over the company. Staffing and maintenance has been cut.”

Past coverage:

July 21, 2009: Couple accused of fraud to fund gambling habit

Still no arrests in gravesite flower thefts

A woman who sold Memorial Day flowers stolen from Catholic cemeteries told Spokane police she didn’t know the items were stolen.

The woman, who has not been arrested, said she got the flower pots from a relative, police said today. But police determined the flowers were stolen from gavestires at tree cemeatries.

Nearly 760 planters had been purchased for $25 by Memorial Day. Most disappeared that weekend; a cemetery employee spotted them being sold for $5 at the corner of Stevens and Buckeye Monday morning.

Police on Tuesday released photos of the planters in hopes more people will come forward. Anyone who bought one of the stolen planters is asked to return them to the cemeteries office at the Holy Cross Cementary, 7200 N. Wall.

Anyone who sees the flowers still being sold should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Read more about the thefts in this story: Memorial Day planters stolen from graves

School PTO thief must repay $22,000

A former elementary school PTO treasurer is to repay $22,000 in stolen donations after pleading guilty to two felony theft charges this week.

Theresa L. Dewitt also was sentenced to a year probation in a plea deal approved Tuesday in Superior Court.

The longtime Whitman Elementary School volunteer, beginning in September 2006, bilked the PTO of money raised through sales of cookie dough and fine chocolate in what authorities described as an attempt to fund a gambling habit.

Dewitt apologized after her arrest and said she always intended to repay the money.

Her scheme unraveled just before school began in fall 2008, when the Whitman PTO president opened an overdraft statement from the bank. She and Dewitt were in the Whitman principals office when the president exclaimed: “We have no money. It’s all gone.”

Past coverage: Nov. 10: PTO theft charges filed

On-the-run lawyer freed after sentencing

It took more than 10 years for a Spokane lawyer to face charges that he stole from a client to fund a failed resort development on Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

Under a sentence imposed today, it will take him just as long to repay even a fraction of what he owes his victims.

Claude K. Irwin Jr., the fugitive arrested in an international ruse arranged by federal agents in January, left the Spokane County Jail Tuesday night after pleading guilty to first-degree theft that afternoon in Spokane County Superior Court.

He was credited for about five months already served in jail – about two weeks of which was spent in Los Angeles County after his arrest in Mexico.

Past coverage:

Feb. 17: On-the-run lawyer back in Spokane

Jan. 28: Fugitive developer captured in international ruse

July 30, 2000: To catch Koyote Karlos, you’ll have to move fast

Developer charged in drugs, sex, theft probe

A once-prominent Spokane land developer has been charged with several felonies related to an alleged drug and stolen property ring investigators believe he ran from his Long Lake home. 

Joseph G. Ward, 62, is due in Spokane County Superior Court within the next two weeks after prosecutors filed charges May 26.

The theft and stolen property charges are related to an investigation conducted by the Washington State Patrol.

A SWAT team raided Ward’s home at 15102 N. Tormey Road on Jan. 7, 2009 and seized suspected stolen property and methamphetamine.

The investigation sent to prosecutors detailed alleged criminal activity ranging from insurance fraud and stolen property possession to major methamphetamine trafficking and videotaped orgies with prostitutes.

After his arrest, Ward thanked the State Patrol for stopping “something that I couldn’t stop myself,” according to court documents, and said he’d be taking daily drug tests to help stay clean.

“We’re happy he’s getting charged with something,” said Sgt. Dave Bolton. “There’s a whole bunch of victims out there that are happy too I imagine.”

Ward, founder of Pinnacle Realty, developed malls and other properties throughout Eastern Washington, including the Spokane Valley Mall.

Past coverage:

March 22, 2010: Police seek developer’s associate

Oct. 12, 2009: Shooting at Ward’s home gets man 4 months

Sept. 30, 2009: Details emerge in probe of developer

June 26, 2009: Felon suspected of WSP lot break-in

Jan. 18, 2009: Realtor’s arrest highlights perils of meth

26 felonies against trio of burglary suspects

What a difference an arrest makes.

Hours after a man already suspected in a string of burglaries last fall was arrested in a new break-in, prosecutors filed felony charges recommended by detectives in April.

Michael L. Yamaguchi, 29, and Stephen Victor, 19, appeared in Superiro Court today on 26 charges related to eight burglaries at gas stations and convenience stores on Nov. 21, Dec. 11 and Feb. 1.

The men were arrested in February with Samantha A. Wynne, 20, who also is charged. Detectives finished the investigation April 1. They’d searched apartments and found video games system and a flat-screen TV that Victor reportedly said he’d bought with the stolen cash.

Wynne reportedly admitted to babysitting Yamaguchi’s son during the burglaries and said the three split the proceeds. Yamaguchi said he sold the stolen cigarettes for $3 a pack or $30 a carton, according to court documents.

Yamaguchi was arrested Wednesday in another burglary at Hico Mart, 1201 North Barker Road. Charges were field for the burglaries that day.

He, Victor and Wynne are charged with burglary, theft and malicious mischief for each break-in, as well as theft of a motor vehicle.

Detectives say the trio made spare keys while test driving vehicles, then returned at night to steal the cars.

Here’s a list of the alleged crimes:

  • Nov. 21, burglary at Conoco, 3333 W. Indian Road
  • Dec. 11, burglaries at Divines, 10222 N. Division and 1428 W. 2nd; Quick Stop, 2508 Northwest Blvd.; Tesoro, 3158 E. 17th
  • Jan. 30 or Feb 1: Car thefts at Haven Street Motors, BJ’s Used Cars and Neighborhood Auto.
  • Feb. 1: burglaries at Shell, 1520 N. Argonne and 1007 N. Sullivan, and Taco Bell, 10620 E. Sprague. Jan. 30 or Feb 1: Car thefts at Haven Street Motors, BJ’s Used Cars and Neighborhood Auto.

‘Judge Judy’ spot helps ID fraud suspect

An appearance on the TV reality show “Judge Judy” has brought a Spokane man more than just 15 minutes of syndicated fame.

Joshua J. Mulvey, 26, now faces new criminal charges in an Internet fraud scheme after a Snohomish County man who saw the episode recognized Mulvey as the same person who conned him out of $2,500 last year, police say.

Mulvey appeared on the courtroom drama within the last two years with his ex-girlfriend, who he was suing for repayment on a car he said he sold to help her financially.

But the show’s host, former family court judge Judith Sheindlin, was unsympathetic.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we try to deceive,” Sheindlin said. “Goodbye Mr. Mulvey; from this court you get nothing. You’re a con man.”

Watch the episode below, and read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 28: Teen killer accused of assault at jail

Feb. 19: Craigslist fraud suspect arrested

Spokane locals on tv from john moham on Vimeo.

‘One-man crime wave’ accused of assault

A Maryland fugitive described by local police as a “one-man crime wave” is accused of assaulting a nurse at Deaconess Medical Center Wednesday night.

Ricky W. Everett, 33, appeared in Superior Court this afternoon on a third-degree assault charge after hospital staff and jails deputies said Everett dug his fingernails into a nurse’s right hand, causing a cut and red marks, according to court documents. The nurse was trying to put a breathing mask on Everett when he became uncooperative about 9:40 p.m., documents allege.

Everett’s bail was set at $200,000 today. That’s in addition to $150,000 bond set Wednesday for a theft of a motor vehicle charge.

Everett, who has 30 felony convictions in six states, was arrested Tuesday after police said he paid for a Honda Accord with a bad check. Police on Wedensday searched a Queen Avenue home (pictured above) where he’d been staying.

Everett left federal prison in March after serving time for impersonating a U.S. marshal in Oregon. In court documents, federal prosecutors described Everett’s mental state as “a puzzle, to say the least.”

Spokane detectives say he carries a Taser and has told citizens he’s a police officer.

Anyone who has had contact with Everett or has accepted a check from Ricky’s PI Service is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Everett’s probation officer and a Portland police detective “are glad he’s gone because he caused a lot of trouble,” said Deputy Prosecutor George Gagnon at Everett’s first Superior Court appearance on Wednesday.

Read my story: ‘One-man crime wave’ with 30 felonies hit Spokane

Tips sought on Nordstrom purse snatchers



Spokane police are looking for two women who stole expensive purses from Nordstrom on Sunday. 

Surveillance photos show the women in the downtown Spokane store about 3:30 p.m, police said. They left in a red, four-door car. 

One woman had her dark hair in a pony tail and wore a blue hooded sweatshirt. She has what police describe as a “distinguishing tattoo” on her neck, but the photos don’t show it in detail.  

The other woman wore a gray sweatshirt with “PINK” written on the back. 

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

CdA Man Wants His Head Back

Don Kilian of Coeur d’Alene called this morning to complain someone had stolen his head. More precisely, the large wooden head sculpture he’s had for nearly half a century. It was sitting in front of his house in the 1300 block of 15th. He suspects a group of young hooligans dragged it to their pickup truck and made off with it. It was so heavy that it would take 3 or 4 people to move it, Kilian said. Anyway, he wants his head back.

Felon with copper wire triggers investigation

Detectives are trying to locate the owner of a large amount of copper and aluminum wire seized from a longtime felon last week.

Metal has been increasingly targeted by drug-addicted thieves in the last few years because it can be sold for cash at scrap yards.

So when police found William L. Moore, 44, with gloves, flashlights, saw tools and more than 70 feet of aluminum and copper wire after a traffic stop at Argonne Road and Sinto Avenue on May 4, they figured he was up to something criminal.

Read the rest of my story here.

Stolen mail tied to Spokane ID theft scheme

An investigation into stolen mail led detectives to an identity theft scheme allegedly orchestrated by a Spokane woman they say was “kind of relieved” when she was arrested.

“She dw.ckltold us we were good,” Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Dean MeyerÖ said of the suspect, Jacquelyn A. CrawfordÖ. “She just began injecting methamphetamine, so in way she was thankful she was caught.”

Crawford, 40, and Charlene M. HaggardÖ, 42, are accused of stealing mail and prowling cars, then creating bogus checks with pilfered bank account numbers that were passed at stores throughout Spokane County and in North Idaho. The women allegedly used driver’s licenses stolen along with the check information to complete the scheme.

Read the rest of my story here.

Oxy addict, mom tied to church burglaries

A series of church burglaries busted by police last week apparently began four months ago when a young man stole a purse from a Mormon church with his mother.

The suspect, Andy W. Hoke, 24, told police he used stolen credit cards to buy expensive electronics that he would then trade to a man he knew as “Stevie D” for OxyContin. Police identified that man as 50-year-old Steven D. Kinard, brother of Terrence “T-Baby” Kinard.

Hoke said Stevie Kinard gave him lists of items, including computers, video games and kitchen equipment, to locate each day in exchange for OxyContin.

Hoke told police he uses up to ten 80 mg OxyContin pills a day, valued at up to $800. Hoke also reportedly told police he traded stolen property to a man named Daniel I. Heinzen, 23.

Police searched two locations associated with Kinard last week - 16 S. Fiske St and 2503 E. Seventh Ave. (The Seventh Avenue home is where a judge was to allow T-Baby to spend Thanksgiving during a during a five-hour jail furlough.) Heinzen’s home at 1016 E. Montgomery also was searched.

At the Fiske address, deputies arrested Raymond E. Coble, 45, on a felony warrant from the Department of Corrections, along with Kinard on a charge of possession of crack cocaine.

“We recovered multiple TVs, computers and gaming equipment. We also found narcotics, including OxyContin, crack cocaine and methamphetamines,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser.

The thefts occurred at 18 churches in Spokane County, 12 in Spokane and several more in North Idaho.

“Hoke further admitted that he had done several church thefts with his mother until the last month or so when he began doing them on his own,” according to a search warrant.

The scheme fell apart when employees at Mt. Spokane Church called police May 5 and said they’d caught Hoke in the church and believed he was planing a theft. Hoke’s brother, Jeremiah L. Hoke, 26, was with him.

Andy Hoke, who remains in jail, has an eight-year local criminal history that includes convictions for burglary, trafficking stolen property, theft, obstructing a police investigation, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. according to Crime Stopppers.

He, Kinard and Heinzen are to be arraigned May 18.

Due in court: McBride the wedding crasher

A woman who crashed weddings and looted the gift piles is in trouble again.

Pamula K. McBride, 46, was in a felony diversion program for stealing a cart full of groceries from Fred Meyer when police arrested her last August on theft charges in connection with a looted Spokane wedding reception.

But no one in the program has heard from her since she skipped an appointment Aug. 12 - one week after her wedding-crashing scheme screeched to a handcuffed halt.

Now Spokane County prosecutors want a judge to review her compliance with the program, which could lead to an arrest warrant. McBride is to appear before Judge Maryann Moreno Monday afternoon.

She was sentenced in February to serve 45 days in the Nez Perce County Jail after pleading guilty to grand theft in connection with a wedding last June.

Police tracked McBride through stolen gift cards after the Lewiston wedding party noticed missing gifts and the off-duty police officer told them he’d seen a high school classmate who seemed nervous when he asked what she was doing.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26: Wedding crasher now has jail date

Rare rifle helps catch Boundary Co. burglar

A 21-year-old North Idaho man will spend at least two years in prison for ransacking a Boundary County vacation home last fall.

Cory S. Eccles, of Eastport, threw a 5-pound rock through the window of a vacant cabin on Deep Creek Loop in November and took several items.

Police traced the burglary to Eccles after he attempted to sell a rare Winchester rifle stolen from the home.

After rejecting a plea deal, Eccles changed his mind and pleaded guilty to burglary April 26, just before his trial was to begin in Boundary County District Court.

Judge Benjamin Simpson sentenced Eccles to two to five years in prison for burglary, theft and unlawful possession of a firearm. A charge of malicious injury to property was dismissed.

Prosecutor Jack Douglas said Eccles, whose criminal history dates back to 2005, was disciplined in jail after his arrest for trying to make alcohol from fruit juice.

Reward offered for tips in stolen check case









Thieves recently stole a woman’s purse from a car in the Indian Trial area then tried cashing stolen checks at two Spokane stores.  

Now Spokane police are looking for help identifying suspects caught on camera at both stores. 

The car prowling occurred April 27, the same day police say the thieves went to Nordstrom in downtown Spokane. They were seen at the Albertsons at Division Street and Farwell Road on April 30. 

Four photos released by police this week show a man and two women, as well as a white car believed to belong to the suspects.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here. 

Valley woman loses $3,000 in classic scam

Law enforcement is again warning of a swindle known as the grandparents scam after a 77-year-old Spokane County woman sent $3,000 to a con man claiming to be her grandson.

The woman sent the money to Kent, England on Wednesday after receiving a call from someone she thought was her grandson, who said he had been arrested at the Canadian border after a friend was caught with drugs, and he needed money for bail.

“The woman questioned the money going to England, but the “grandson” convinced her that was the way Canadian authorities posted bail,” according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

When he man called again on Thursday requesting she sent $2,500 to Niagara Falls, employees at Western Union persuaded her not to comply.

The woman learned of the scam after calling her grandson.

“Elderly victims are frequently targeted by this type of fraud and may become known to the suspect through published obituaries that list surviving relatives, according to the Sheriff’s Office. “Spokane County sees three or four of these scams that are successful every year.”

Last fall, a similar scam bilked a Spokane woman out of $17,000.

And last month, Walmart employees stopped a woman from sending $4,200 to a supposed lawyer in Canada.

Anyone with an elderly relative should warn them of the scam.

Prison for ‘runaway train of criminal conduct’

A career burglar described by a judge as a “runaway train of criminal conduct” was denied drug treatment Thursday and sentenced to more than four years in prison.

Christopher J. Cannata, 37, was given 51 months in prison for a string of burglaries that began last August and continued after he was released from jail because prosecutors hadn’t filed charges.

A prosecutor, defense lawyer and Superior Court judge each described Cannata’s criminal record, which includes 21 felonies dating back to his childhood, as “extraordinary.”

“How do we stop a locomotive that’s running away?” said Judge Michael Price before denying public defender Derek Reid’s request for a lesser sentence that would include intensive drug treatment.

Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith said Cannata’s criminal records “speaks for itself.”

“All that society can hope for in this particular case is he’s just off the street and not burglarizing and stealing from people for some period,” Smith said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 10, 2009: Crime suspect held, again

May 19, 2005: Convict denied drug program

No charges yet in alleged Lilac Lanes theft

No charges have been filed against two former Spokane casino employees who were arrested on suspicion of stealing nearly $175,000 from the business.

Eddie S. Williams, 44, and Shari Cawley, 41, were to be arraigned today in Spokane County Superior Court, but Judge Greg Sypolt canceled the hearing because prosecutors haven’t filed charges.

Williams and Cawley were arrested April 13 at Lilac Lanes, 1112 E. Magnesium Road, after employees said the two ordered them to destroy financial records and erase video tapes to hide their theft, according to the Washington State Gambling Association.

Financial records show $173,000 in missing funds, said Gary Drumheller, agent in charge for the Gambling Commission in Spokane. Investigators say Williams, the general manager, and Cawley, the accounting manager, shorted an ATM daily over the course of a year.

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark released the suspects from Spokane County Jail on their own recognizance April 14. Prosecutors can still file charges, and Judge Sypolt ordered Cawley and Williams to stay in contact with the court.

Their jail release conditions, which prohibit them from contacting each other or going to Lilac Lanes, remain in effect.

Past coverage:

Lilac Lanes managers accused of theft

‘Problem gambler’ accused of theft, forgery

A Spokane woman who reportedly told police she’s a problem gambler is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from her employer.

Wendy J. Tappa, 55, was arrested Thursday on charges of fraud and first-degree theft after Spokane Valley police say she forged and cashed checks from Northwest Consulting Solutions LLC, where she was hired as an office manager in October.

Bank officials notified the owner earlier this month that the company’s account was overdrawn. They also said Tappa regularly cashed payroll checks, “and that a Spokane Valley gambling business had been in to cash checks payable to Tappa,” according to police.

The owner said Tappa forged his signature on as many as 15 checks. Police found one of the checks in her pocket at the time of her arrest, according to a news release.

Tappa is is in Spokane County Jail and will appear in Superior Court today via video.