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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.

Robbery victim’s stash: Sex toy, syringes

A robbery suspect arrested in a Spokane Valley water park after his truck ran out of gas reportedly told police he arranged to buy methamphetamine from the victim but robbed her instead.

Police found a pornographic video, a sex toy, condoms, syringes, plastic baggies along with the victim’s backpack, according to court documents filed today.

Joseph W. Boyce, aka Joseph Davis, told detectives he’s a meth addict with no money who threatened Jill Wick, 29, with a broken pellet gun before a friend, Jumah A. Robinson, 32, stole her backpack and purse in a parking lot at Trent and Argonne early Tuesday, according to court documents.

A K-9 helped police track Robinson and Boyce, 25, inside Splash Down Water Park after the men abandoned their 1998 Chevrolet pickup along eastbound Interstate 90. Police seized the pellet gun from the truck, along with two glass drug pipes, according to a search warrant.

Wick told police she met the men through her boyfriend and went to the Albertsons grocery store to give them a ride after they called her repeatedly. When she saw them in the truck, Wick said she asked “why they can’t just drive that vehicle wherever they wanted to go,” according to court documents.

Boyce is in jail on $50,000 bond; Robinson’s bond is at $25,000. Both are charged with first-degree robbery.

Tips sought on suspects in home looting

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that helps arrest two men accused of burglarizing a home, then filling the family’s Dodge Durango with the loot and stealing it.

 Anthony T. Falasco, 28, (left) and Marcus R. Jolly, 27 (right), are wanted for the February burglary in the 11100 block of East 22nd Avenue, police said.

Police arrested Falasco with a stolen vehicle after the burglary, according to police, then found an illegal shotgun, a pipe bomb and stolen property at an apartment on South Havana Street where they’d heard Jolly was staying. 

But Jolly wasn’t there, and Crime Stoppers in March announced a reward for tips on his location. 

Prosecutors charged Falasco with residential burglary, reckless endangerment and reckless driving late last month, prompting Crime Stoppers to announce a reward for his capture today.

Falasco last gave 37400 Angels Landing in Ford, Wash., as his home address, but he has an eight-year criminal history in Spokane County, according to Crime Stoppers.

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

K-9 nabs 2 burglary suspects after crash

A police dog helped catch two teenagers accused of burglarizing an East Boone Avenue building supply store this morning.

Officers saw two men run from Allied Building Supplies, 2808 E. Boone Ave., to a car that fled until crashing in the area of East Garnet Avenue and North Market Street.

Police arrested the suspected driver, Shelbie L. Harding, 20, on one count of attempting to elude a police vehicle. Officer Jake Jensen’s K-9, Duke, found another suspect hiding atop a shed, then found the third suspect a few blocks away. Jonothon A. Delay, 18, and Daniel R. Burland, 18, each face a second-degree burglary charge.

Police called the arrests “an example of excellent patrol work form the K-9 handler and his partner as well as patrol officers.”

“Fleeing suspects demonstrate that they are willing to actively avoid capture and often have a plethora of hiding places in which to secrete themselves,” according to a news release. “The K-9s are able to locate suspects with much less risk to responding officers.”

Jensen and Duke are pictured above at the Spokane police training center in March 2008.

Spike strip stops Spokane fuel theft suspect

A police chase in Spokane early Tuesday ended with the arrest of a man suspected in a series of fuel heists in the Inland Northwest. 

Richard L. Trower, 37, was driving a stolen Honda Accord when officers used spike strips to flatten the tires during a chase on East Trent Avenue after 2 a.m., according to court documents prepared by Spokane police.

Trower (pictured left at the Benewah County Jail in 2008) was arrested after a cruiser bumped the back of the Honda as he drove on the wheel rims. His passenger, 28-year-old Ambur R. Bay, was arrested on a drug charge.

It’s the second arrest in two months for the duo, who police believe may be involved in an interstate fuel theft ring that triggered a massive drug and stolen property investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Spokane police detectives believe Trower is an associate of the suspects arrested in a stolen property investigation on March 23, including 36-year-old Cole T. Monson, but Trower has not been charged.

Read the rest of my story here.

Lilac Lanes managers accused of theft

The top managers at Spokane’s Lilac Lanes are accused of stealing nearly $175,000 from the business.

Eddie S. Williams, 44, and Shari Cawley were arrested today at the bowling alley and gambling hall, located at 1112 East Magnesium Road.

Washington State Gambling Commission investigators say the two shorted an ATM daily over the course of a year. Employees came forward after Williams and Cawley ordered them to destroy financial records and erase video tapes to hide the theft, said Gary Drumheller, agent in charge for the Gambling Commission in Spokane.

The investigation began Thursday with the help of Lilac Lanes’ owners and an accounting firm that audited the business last year. Financial records show $173,000 in missing funds, Drumheller said.

Drumheller called the tipsters “good employees and honest people trying to just do their jobs.”

Williams was booked into Spokane County Jail Tuesday afternoon on charges of first-degree theft, two counts of gambling (fraud/deception) and obstructing a public officer.

Drumheller said Cawley was booked, but jail officials had no record of her this afternoon. Gambling agents searched her home at 12023 N. Dakota Lane as part of today’s investigation. Investigators haven’t determined if any of the items were purchased with stolen money, Drumheller said.

Lilac Lanes remains open, and Drumheller said the Gambling Commission will work with the owners, who he described as “cooperative,” while they find new management.

Trio of burglary suspects faces 30 felonies

Three people arrested for burglaries in early February are believed to be responsible for a string of break-ins throughout Spokane County that began in November, the Spokane Valley Police Department announced today.

Police are recommending 30 felony charges against Michael Yamaguchi, 29, Stephen Victor, 19, and Samantha Winne, 19.

Detectives think the trio made spare keys while test driving vehicles, then returned at night to steal the cars. Vehicles were stolen from Neighborhood Auto Sales at 3024 N. Market, Haven Street Motors, 3001 E. Heroy and BJ’s Used Cars at 4422 E. Sprague.

Police believe Winne would babysit Yamaguchi’s children while Yamaguchi and Victor burglarized the businesses.

The three are connected to burglaries at Conoco, 333 W. Indian Trails Road, in November, as well as burglaries in December at Divines at 10222 N. Division and 1428 W. 2nd Ave., Quick Stop at 2508 W. Northwest Blvd, and Tesoro at 3158 E. 17th Ave.

They were arrested in February after burglaries at a Shell station at 1520 N. Argonne Road, a Shell at 1007 N. Sullivan Road, and Taco Bell at 10620 E. Sprague. The three faces charges ranging from theft to malicious mischief. Police also are seeking one count of money laundering against Victor and Yamaguchi and one count of trafficking in stolen property against Yamaguchi.

Police say the businesses suffered tens of thousands of dollars in theft and property damage.

Previous story:

Three accused of store burglaries

Suspect named in CdA church burglaries

A suspect has been identified in two burglaries at Coeur d’Alene churches last fall. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest Scott Anthony Osborne, 39. 

Osborne is accused of stealing cash, keys, food, guitars and tools from the First Christian Church, 610 N. 4th St., and the St. Thomas Catholic Church, 919 E. Indiana Ave., on Oct. 22.

Surveillance cameras at one of the churches captured the burglar, whom police identified Thursday as Osborne. Obsorne was convicted of third-degree theft in 2001, according to news archives.

Anyone with information on Osborne’s location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or 1-866-667-2111.

Callers don’t have to leave their names but should leave a code name or number.

2 charged in Hanford credit-card scheme

A former Hanford manager and his wife are facing criminal charges for allegedly using a company credit card to spend $487,000 on personal items.

Paul F. Kempf and Anita M. Gust are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal wire fraud in U.S. District Court. Kempf was an operations manager between 2000 and 2005 for Richland companies Fluor Hanford and CH2M Hill Hanford Group.

Kempf is accused of using company-issued credit cards for purchases listed as laboratory supplies from a Tri-Cities company called AMG Marketing, owned by Gust.

Read the rest of Tom Sowa’s story here.

Police: Would-be shoplifter turns robber

A would-be shoplifting suspect faces a second-degree robbery charge after store employees said he assaulted them. 

Daniel F. Barcellos, Jr., 40, ran from the Big R store, 8307 East Trent Ave., on Saturday with a $200 leather jacket before trying to punch and shove three employees who chased him, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Barcellos, who employees says is suspected of previous thefts, had been spotted trying to stuff a leather boot inside the jacket. He assaulted employees who tried blocking his path before he was finally tackled near Trent and Vista, police said.

Police found wire cutters on Barcellos, and the leather jacket he was wearing had Big R tags, but the security device had been removed.

Barcellos’s criminal history includes convictions for reckless and negligent driving, driving on a suspended license, theft, malicious mischief, domestic violence assault, violation of court orders and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.

He appeared today in Superior Court, where his bond was set at $25,000.

Theft suspect arrested after stopping cop

OREM, Utah (AP) — Utah police say a man accused of stealing two phones from a convenience store was arrested when he flagged down the investigating officer and asked for directions. 

Police say the officer noticed that John White (left) matched the description a store clerk gave of the thief, and the address White wanted turned out to be the same one the officer was checking.

The address had been left on a slip of paper the thief left at a gas station.

White was arrested Tuesday after the officer found he had both phones, along with a small amount of marijuana.

Police say charges are pending.

Stolen property bust linked to ID theft ring

A big stolen property bust that culminated with five raids yesterday appears to be connected to a big identity theft ring detectives uncovered a couple weeks ago.

Ronald R. Foreman is accused of masterminding a multi-state check fraud ring that bilked businesses out of thousands of dollars.

A tipster who helped police with Foreman’s case also said that Foreman planned to rob a methamphetamine dealer named Tracy Pirello, according to a search warrant filed today in Spokane County Superior Court.

Pirello is named in the warrant as an accomplice to John “Animal” Rose, who was arrested with several others Tuesday in a stolen property and drug investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives searched Rose’s property at 19201 E. Boone Ave., where other suspects arrested Tuesday allegedly stored stolen goods. Cole T. Monson reportedly got methampethme from Tamara D. Geurin, 28, in exchange for the goods, according to the search warrant.

Geurin already is in jail on federal drug charges, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court. She pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth earlier this month.

Monson appeared in court today, along with Rose and the others arrested Tuesday. Read more about them here.

Past coverage: Couple’s ex-lover told police about fraud ring

Bust could solve 100+ burglaries, prowlings

An interstate fuel theft investigation unveiled hundreds of pieces of suspected stolen property Tuesday after law enforcement arrested seven people and seized heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Law enforcement raided five places early Tuesday that Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives say could be connected to more than 100 unsolved burglaries and vehicle prowlings in the county.
Detectives rented a moving truck to haul suspected stolen property from a rented garage in the 6000 block of East Clements Lane northeast of Spokane.

The investigation began in November when Sgt. John Nowels used a computer database to track what he suspected was a trend in commercial burglaries and fuel thefts.

About that same time, Coeur d’Alene police named a suspect in fuel thefts, who Spokane detectives believe is connected to the suspects recently arrested, including Cole T. Monson, 36.

“These people have been very active for a long time,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

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

Another arrested in gang-related homicide

Another man has been arrested in connection with an unsolved gang-related shooting in January.

Justin A. Battle, 29, is accused of possessing the stolen Ruger mini rifle police think was used to kill 38-year-old John S. Williams in an alley behind 5405 N. Crestline on Jan. 17. He was arrested after detectives searched his apartment at 1839 E. Marshall Ave. last week on suspicion that he was selling marijuana.

Police found crack cocaine and marijuana, along with a bullet and a firearm part that belonged to the mini rifle, which was stolen in a burglary in Chattaroy on Jan. 4, according to court documents. Battle is accused of helping a defendant in that burglary sell the mini rifle.

Battle, who was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1998, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court March 18 on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property. He’s out on $10,000 bond.

Three other men, Eric Burton, Jr., Antonio Cook, Jr., and Elexander R. Burgess have already been charged with possessing the mini rifle, which police found in a car rented by Burton. Burton and other reputed gang members were attending a birthday party at the Crestline apartment complex when Williams was killed.

Williams’ mother, Cindy Williams, said she believes the killer was after her grandson, John Williams’ 21-year-old son.

Past coverage:

‘Not a simple investigation’

Police find gun used in slaying

Fraud suspect hid $26,000 in bra, police say

Employees found $26,000 in the bra of an accused thief booked into Spokane County Jail on Friday.

Lukeisha A. Harris, 24, the only suspect in an accused three-person fraud team who’s been able to post bail, stashed the cash with several bank receipts, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The Seattle-area resident is accused with Corey B. Jones, 25, and Elicionne L. Washington, 23, of stealing thousands of dollars from Spokane banks.

The trio is due in Superior Court this afternoon via video from the jail, where they spent the weekend. Harris posted bail last night, according to jail records.

The three suspects, described by the Sheriff’s Office as a “fraud team that traversed Spokane,” were arrested at the North Pointe branch of Chase Bank after employees at the Washington Trust Bank, 438 E. Hastings Road, reported a “heavyset” woman in black clothes and pink shoes had tried to get money with a stolen credit card.

Harris appears to match the bank employee’s description of the culprit - she’s 6-feet tall and 400 pounds, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Harris and Washington both told different deputies they were Aurora Wright, according to a news release.

“As they dug through a bible for their identification, several pieces of identification fell out,” according to a news release. “The ID’s all had the name of Aurora Wright, but with different photos.”

The trio also had counterfeit Oregon driver’s licenses and cards stolen from six credit companies, the sheriff’s office said. Detectives searched the suspects’s Nissan Altima and motel room at the Comfort Inn on North Division.

Jones and the women also are suspected of taking $8,000 from the Washington Trust Bank at 3810 N. Maple St. One person wold ask for a cash advance with a credit card that wouldn’t work, then provide a phone number to get the advance approved. A coconspirator at that number would provide an authorization number to override the credit card’s inactive status, the sheriff’s office said.

Judge: No jail furlough for Strollin’ Nolan

A man with more than 50 criminal convictions who 12 years ago escaped from police headquarters, then mailed back his handcuffs, was denied a furlough from jail Friday to deal with the recent death of his mother.

Fred W. Nolan, Jr., requested a leave from Geiger Corrections Center to help get his late mother’s affairs in order, but Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark ordered he stay behind bars and cited his dozens of felony convictions.

Nolan, 40, is being held on $5,000 bail for burglary and malicious mischief charges. He was arrested in June, accused of break-ins at offices in the Empire Health Services building at 601 W. Fifth Ave. Police found a green Otter Pop popsicle wrapper in the building that was submitted for fingerprints; green liquid was located throughout the offices, according to court records.

Nolan has at least 51 criminal convictions, mostly for theft and burglary, dating back to 1983. (See his record here.)

He’s served five prison sentences, including a three-year stint after he escaped from the Public Safety Building while handcuffed in 1997. The stunt earned him the nickname “Strollin’ Nolan.”

Past coverage:

Whatever happened to: Strollin’ Nolan

Handcuffed man escapes from police interrogation room

Doug Clark: Handcuffed escapees blames missteps

Doug Clark: Career burglar doesn’t seem like a good loan risk

Man who steals to ‘make ends meet’ arrested

A man who once said he stole as “to make ends meet” was arrested Friday after sheriff’s deputies said he returned to the scene of a burglary.

Dustin L. Lang, 29, threatened a witness with a knife after being confronted about breaking into a garage at 6500 N. Jensen about 5:50 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

A tracking dog found the knife and Lang’s abandoned vehicle, but not Lang, the Sheriff’s Office said.

But Lang, a convicted felon, returned to the scene after deputies left, and another witness called 911. Lang was arrested on charges of first-degree burglary and three counts of vehicle prowling, as an outstanding warrant.

Six years ago, Lang told The Spokesman-Review he viewed stealing as his way to make a living.

“If their garage is as big as my house then, damn, they must have insurance. They’ve got all this stuff and I’ve got nothing…I don’t do it because I like to steal, but I’ve got to make ends meet.” Lang said in an article you can read here.

He ended up pleading guilty to a slew of property crimes and serving 90 days in jail, according to news archives. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison in October 2008 after pleading guilty to four counts of second-degree possession of stolen property.

Police warn of scams against elderly

Police are warning of a scam targeting the elderly after a conman nearly bilked an 89-year-old Spokane Valley woman out of $2,500 last week. 

The man called and said he was reviewing employees at a Spokane financial institution “to see if they were handling her account correctly,” according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

The man asked for her balance, then asked her to deliver a $2,500 check to a man named “Meyers” at a nearby grocery store.

“The intended-victim said she was preparing to leave with the check when it occurred to her to call the bank,” according to a news release. “Employees there quickly squelched the attempted fraud.”

Another woman last month told police she nearly sent a man posing as her grandson money for bail in Canada before realizing it was a con. (Read a story on that scam here.)

People with elderly parents are encouraged to talk to them about potential frauds. Thieves may scan obituaries seeking elder widows or widowers to target.

“Persons in their 70s and older grew up in an age where people were more trusting in others, and the elderly frequently fall prey to this type of con,” Sgt Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Drug-addicted ATM thief gets 2 years

A longtime felon will serve about two years in prison for a rash of ATM thefts in early 2009 that the court ruled was driven by his drug addiction.

Keith G. Simpson, 44, was sentenced to 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree theft and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary.

The plea deal approved Tuesday mandates drug treatment in prison and dropped 15 additional burglary, theft and malicious mischief charges.

Simpson already is serving 27 months for various property crimes.

The charges are connected to a January 2009 crime spree in which Simpson and his alleged accomplice, Christopher S. Carden, crashed vehicles into storefronts, then towed away the expensive ATMs and looted them of thousands of dollars in cash. Carden, 36, is in jail awaiting trial.

Along with Simpson and Carden, Mychal L. Wahl, 20, is charged with three counts of first-degree theft for alleged ATM heists at Five Mile Heights Pizza and the Double Dribble Tavern.

Tips, fingerprints, surveillance photos and detective work led investigators to identify the suspects, documents show.

When police showed Simpson a surveillance photo from one of the heists and asked him who was in it, he said, according to court documents:”That looks like me. That looks a lot like me!”

Simpson’s prior convictions include possession of and trafficking of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, first- and second-degree theft, city theft, identity theft, second-degree burglary, DUI and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.

Read more about ATM thefts here.

Reward offered for tips on burglary suspect

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of a man suspected in a recent pair of residential burglaries.

Marcus R. Jolly, 27, is wanted for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

He was named as a burglary suspect last week after his alleged accomplice, Anthony T. Falasco, 28, was arrested with a Mitsubishi Outlander stolen from 12000 block of East 24th Avenue, according to Spokane Valley police.

The men also are accused of stealing a Dodge Durango and “cleaning out” a home in the 11100 block of East 22nd Avenue, police said.

Police found an illegal shotgun, a pipe bomb and more stolen property at an apartment on South Havana Street Friday night where they’d heard Jolly was staying.

But Jolly wasn’t there, and Crime Stoppers today announced a reward for tips on his location.

Jolly’s11-year Spokane County criminal history includes convictions for third-degree theft, first-degree theft, second-degree identity theft, first and second-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without owner’s permission., according to Crime Stoppers. His last known address was 1328 E. Rich Ave.

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

3 arrested in Pullman-Spokane crime spree

A drug and stolen property crime spree was uncovered early Tuesday when a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy stopped to check on a stranded SUV.

Investigators think 24-year-old Yan Yefremov - who had been out of jail on bail in another case - and James W. Peterschick, 28, were exchanging stolen property for drugs at the Spokane home of 47-year-old Misty A. Maus, at 814 E. Nebraska.

The men were arrested after deputies found a green Ford Explorer with its hazard lights flashing on Highway 195 near Plaza.

A note on the SUV’s steering wheel addressed to “Danny” said “Heather” had gone for gas.

A woman approaching the car carrying a gas can denied being Heather and gave false names, but deputies determined she was 27-year-old Heather I. Halseth, wanted on a felony warrant.

Deputies think Halseth accompanied Yefremov and Peterschick to the Washington Sate University campus earlier that day, where they stole the Ford Explorer and 1982 Honda and ransacked several vehicles of laptop computers and other valuables, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Halseth also said that within the last two weeks, Yefremov held a handgun to her head and threatened her life if she ever told police about his activities,” according to court documents.

Investigators arrested Yefremov and Peterschick after they drove up to Maus’ home in the stolen Honda, the Sheriff’s Office said.

More than 100 pieces of evidence were seized from Maus’ home, according to the Sheriff’s Office, including a stolen motorcycle, stolen license plates and stolen laptops, one of which had been stolen in the Pullman car prowlings early Tuesday.

Yefremov and Peterschick appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday and remain in jail.

Yefremov has a lengthy criminal record and was arrested in December, accused of smash-and-grab burglaries at Pawn One, 3705 N. Market St., and Pounders Jewelry, 3131 N. Division St.

He and Aleksey Y. Solodyankin, 30, are accused of using stolen vehicles to try to break through the buildings.

Read more about that case here.

3 charged with early ‘09 ATM thefts

A rash of burglaries last fall in which stolen vehicles were used to smash through storefronts to take ATMs came about at the same time Spokane saw a rise in car thefts. 

The crime spree was carried out in a manner similar to a string of ATM thefts in early 2009. Three men have been charged in connection with eight of the early 2009 burglaries, but the later burglaries remain mostly unsolved except for two incidents in December connected to a 33-year-old Spokane man.

Tips, fingerprints, surveillance photos and detective work led investigators to identify longtime felon Keith G. Simpson, 44, (left) and Christopher S. Carden, 36, as suspects in the earlier spree.

The men are charged with 20 counts of theft, burglary and malicious mischief for eight hits on businesses between Jan. 4 and Jan. 20, 2009.

Read the rest of my story here.

Conman steals elderly homeowner’s wallet

A man conned his way into an elderly Spokane couple home last weekend and stole a wallet, now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify him.

The couple, both in their late 80s, allowed the man into their home in the 8100 block of East Upriver Drive Sunday after he told them he was a window washer, Crime Stoppers announced today.

The culprit grabbed the elderly man’s wallet and fled the home.

A witness reported an elderly couple chasing an old red mini-van with a Montana license plate 541770 and said the man was crying. The couple told police the man drove away in a red station wagon with license plates similar to 5147110, unknown state.

“Different combinations of the given license plate numbers do not produce a mini-van,” according to a news release.

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

Craigslist fraud leads Spokane police to CdA

A Craigslist scheme that stretched from Spokane to Miami led police to a Coeur d’Alene hotel this week, where they arrested a suspect accused of duping unsuspecting buyers through fraudulent advertisements.

Joshua J. Mulvey, 25, was arrested on a second-degree theft charge Tuesday at Motel 6 in Coeur d’Alene after Spokane police searched his Spokane apartment last week.

Mulvey escaped during that search, police say, climbing into the attic of a neighboring apartment and fleeing out of a window. Detectives used a ping from Mulvey’s cell phone to trace him to Coeur d’Alene, according to police. Mulvey is in the Kootenai County Jail.

Spokane police Detective Corey Turman has been investigating Mulvey since early December and believes he has more victims. Anyone who feels victimized should fill out a police report, Turman said.

Mulvey is the son of longtime Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy Ronald Mulvey. He was arrested in 2004 in a crime spree tied to street racing.

Past story: Suspects have family ties to legal system

$750,000 bond for Claude Irwin

A disbarred lawyer on the run for more than a decade returned to Spokane this week to face an accusation that he stole money from a dead client’s estate.

Claude K. Irwin, Jr., appeared in Superior Court on Wednesday through a video feed from the jail, where he was booked just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Irwin’s bond was set at $750,000 for a first-degree theft charge. If convicted, Irwin’s lack of a criminal record means he would face about 90 days in jail. But he owes millions in claims to creditors and investors for a failed development on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Powderhorn Ridge Ranch.

His 12 years on the run show he’s a flight risk who needed a huge bond, Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith said.

Smith said he’s reviewing the accusations against Irwin to see if they warrant additional charges.

Irwin’s current charge could carry a stiffer penalty “based on the sheer amount of money that was involved and the fact that he was in a position of trust,” Smith said.

Irwin, 62, declined to be interviewed for this story. He was represented by a public defender Wednesday, who said Irwin plans to hire private counsel.

Irwin had been in jail in Los Angeles since Jan. 27, after he stepped off a plane from Mexico and was arrested.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage: Fugitive developer captured in international ruse

To catch Koyote Karlos, you’ll have to move fast

Ex-caregiver gets 30 days for scheme

A caregiver who tried to steal money from a dead man will spend a month in jail, a judge ruled today.

Ronald L. Brown, 41, has 10 days to report to the Spokane County Jail to serve a 30-day sentence imposed this morning by Superior Court Judge Michael Price.

Police began investigating Brown after he showed up at Providence Sacred Heart Hospital in January 2009 with what he told hospital workers was a will written by a client he cared for, James Shelly Gant (left). 

Gant, 68, had died the day before, and Brown, Gant’s caregiver through Home Care of Washington, had a note stating he was to receive all his money - about $7,000.

Police say that note was forged, and a jury convicted Brown of first-degree attempted theft last month.

The trial included testimony from state Rep. Matt Shea, who was a character witness for the defense.

Shea, who did not return a phone call seeking comment, fought in the Iraq war with Brown.

Gant’s death was ruled accidental after family members initially were told it may have involved suspicious circumstances, which triggered investigations of Brown by police and Adult Protective Services.

Gant, who was paralyzed and in a wheelchair, died suddenly from a fast-spreading bacterial infection caused by a contaminated catheter that had been surgically implanted after he was paralyzed in a bicycle accident in the 1980s.

He had complained to his sister about Brown, who had been his caretaker since November 2008, according to court documents.

Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson said the sentence imposed by Price was fair.

It addressed the vulnerabliity of the victim but also “the fact that (Brown’s) 41 and had no convictions until now,” Johnson said.

Past coverage:

Dead man’s caregiver sought on theft charge

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

Killer’s father charged with ID theft

The story of a woman who worked as a prostitute before murdering her husband has reemerged in an otherwise low-level theft case in Spokane County Superior Court.

CKLCurtis A. JohnsonÖ, 69, is scheduled for trial next month on one count of first-degree identity theft after police say he cashed two checks with signatures forged to look like murder victim Dale R. Stark’s.

Stark, 48, was gunned down in south Spokane home on Dec. 9, 2007, by his estranged wife and Johnson’s daughter, Shellye L. Stark (left)Ö. A jury convicted Shellye StarkÖ, 47, of first-degree murder in March, and she’s serving 50 years in prison.

On Dec. 28, 2007, less than a month after the murder, Stark’s slaying, someone transferred $9,500 from Dale Stark’s home equity line on Dec. 28, 2007, into a credit union account Shellye Stark took control of after her husband’s murder.

Then on Jan. 3, 2008, one day after his daughter left jail on $250,000 bond, Johnson reportedly cashed two checks from that credit union account – one for $3,000, which the account already had in it; the other for $9,500 that had been transferred in - in Newport, Wash, prosecution documents allege.

A handwriting expert with the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab said Johnson signed Stark’s name to the checks, according to court documents.

Johnson, of Priest River, Idaho, could not be reached for comment.

Reached by phone, his daughter Karen JacquettaÖ said she knew little about the case and couldn’t comment.


The murder case took an unusual twist in April when Spokane police arrested Shellye Stark’s boyfriend, Brian L. MooreÖ, on accusations that he helped plan the murder, then concocted a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorities into thinking the murder was in self defense.

But a judge ruled last summer that material from a private investigators hired by Moore, 43, that had been included in Stark’s defense lawyer’s files couldn’t be used to support first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore.

Moore’s defense lawyers then moved to dismiss the charges because of lack of evidence, but prosecutors dismissed the charges before the defense request could be heard. Prosecutors have said they’ll refile the charges.

Meanwhile, Moore is at the Santa Ana Jail in California on two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a his warehouse in Orange County, Calif.

His trial is set for May.

The murder case took an unusual twist in April when Spokane police arrested Stark’s boyfriend, Brian L. Moore, on accusations that helped plan the murder, then concocted a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorties into thinking the killing was in self defense.

But a judge ruled last summer that material from a private investigators hired by Moore, 43, that had been included in Stark’s defense lawyer’s files couldn’t be used to support first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore.

Moore’s defense lawyers then moved to dismiss the charges because of lack of evidence, but prosecutors dismissed the charges before the defense request could be heard. Prosecutors have said they’ll refile the charges.

In the mean time, Moore is at the Santa Ana Jail in California, where he was just granted permission to wear reading glasses in his cell, according to court documents filed Jan. 27.

Moore’s public defenders filed the request on Jan. 21 after a doctor recommended hewear glasses.

He faces two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a his warehouse in Orange County, Calif.

His trial is set for May.