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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex-GU student admits forging licenses

A former Gonzaga University student pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of forging driver’s licenses for underage drinkers.

In exchange, 14 other forgery counts and a dozen counts of possessing child pornography were dismissed.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price sentenced Justin Northway Yochum, 23, to the two days in jail he had already served.

Defense attorney Jeffry Finer and Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald agreed there was no evidence Yochum deliberately collected the child pornography that was found on his computer when police seized it in connection with the forgeries.

Finer said Yochum had used his computer as a public “server” for exchanging digital music and other files.

“It was as if he ran a giant parking lot” and paid no attention to what was stored in the parked “cars,” Finer said.

A police investigation indicated Yochum also was suspected of voyeurism for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with a girlfriend. She allegedly had discussed the possibility of being videotaped, but hadn’t consented. No charge was filed.

According to court documents, Yochum charged other undergraduate students $20 to $60 each for forged driver’s licenses. He was caught when he sold one to a police officer who told him she was 20 years old.

“He’s a good kid,” Finer said. “He was being Joe Cool with this caper.”

Although he impressed his friends by helping them skirt the laws against underage drinking and music piracy, Yochum now regrets his actions, Finer said.

Fitzgerald said one reason she consented to the plea bargain was Yochum’s willingness to accept a sentencing option that doubled the standard one-year probation.

Another reason, she conceded, was the possibility that all the evidence against Yochum might have been thrown out of court.

Finer was trying to suppress the evidence on grounds that police improperly searched Yochum’s computer with a warrant that allowed only seizure of the equipment. Police didn’t get a warrant to search the computer’s hard drive until after they had already done so, Finer said.

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