Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Texting gives pot case a bizarre twist

The text messages to the Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy came after a raid at a suspected marijuana grow house. “wee can either b friends or enemies,” the cryptic message began, urging police to drop their probe and alluding to dire consequences that could befall the detective’s family members if it continues: “don’t do this 2 ur kid…I’ve got a surprise for you…tic tock tic tock you aint even going to know when it’s coming.” Those and hundreds of other sexually explicit, profanity-laced messages filled Detective Jeff Shover’s cell phone in the weeks after he gave his number to a suspect who was vacationing in Hawaii when the grow operation was raided, and claimed she was in danger. That suspect, 41-year-old Tina Blanchette, has been charged with intimidating a public servant and making harassing phone calls in a case that began as an otherwise routine marijuana probe but has now taken an unusual twist. Police say the hundreds of text messages, phone calls and emailed images can be traced to her phone. But, Blanchette said in an interview, “You’re only seeing part of the conversation… It’s really humiliating because I’ve been depicted as something completely different.” She pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to intimating a public servant, harassing phone calls and three drug charges connected to an investigation that ended up focusing on much more than just marijuana. Blanchette is accused of threatening Shover and his family by sending more than 300 profanity-laced voice mails and text messages, as well as a few sexually explicit photos, as she vacationed with her boyfriend in Hawaii. Investigators think she may have accessed confidential files at the state Department Social and Health Services, where she worked as a fiscal analyst until earlier this year, to obtain information on Shover. DSHS employees reported receiving similar messages from Blanchette on “such a regular basis that they were basically not able to do their work for fear of picking up the phone,” Deputy Prosecutor Teresa Border said Tuesday. DSHS spokesman John Wiley said he couldn’t comment on a personnel investigation but that “we would look into any allegations of inappropriate or unauthorized access to our computer records.” According to court documents, Blanchette sent her first message to Shover on Feb. 18 - one day after Shover seized three pounds of marijuana and 75 plants from a home at 11311 N. Judkins Road belonging to Blanchette and her now estranged husband, Joseph Blanchette. Tina Blanchette has a medical marijuana card, but Joseph Blanchette reportedly told Shover he knew they were growing more than the allowed amount. “He did it to support Tina’s love for money,” according to court documents. The case began when Shover learned from a confidential informant of possible marijuana dealing by the Blanchettes. The informant reportedly bought marijuana from the Blanchettes’ 21-year-old daughter on two occasions before a judge authorized the Feb. 17 search. Tina Blanchette was in Hawaii with her boyfriend when the home was raided, according to court documents. She got Shover’s cell phone number after she told him she’d been threatened because of the drug bust, but Shover said he never received further information about the alleged threats. Rather, he received lewd photos and profanity laced text messages and voice mails, according to court documents. “…come to Hawaii you not a cop in Hawaii,” one read. Blanchette was arrested on March 16. She said she’d called Shover when she was at the courthouse to tell him she’d returned from Hawaii. “I was not running from anything,” she said. “There’s a lot more to it.”