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

Former CoiNuts owner ordered to repay $578,000

A former Coeur d’Alene coin dealer recently jailed for theft has been ordered to repay customers about $578,000 for violating state consumer protection laws. Kevin E. Mitchell, 49, who owned and operated the CoiNuts Inc. shop until closing it in July 2012, was accused of taking money from the customers but never fully delivering their gold and silver coins. Over time, consumers realized Mitchell had misrepresented his ability to acquire the coins, then ignored their repeated requests for refunds, officials said. Mitchell is permanently barred him from owning or operating a coin business in Idaho, and he has been ordered to repay 10 of his customers a total of $579,569. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a lawsuit against CoiNuts and Mitchell in April 2013. The judge in that case entered a $742,826 default judgment against the business, but not Mitchell personally, in September 2013. That judgment included civil penalties, fees and restitution for a broader group of customers. “This case represents an increasing problem in Idaho,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Business owners accept consumers’ payments, but fail to deliver their purchases, then shut down operations and ignore refund requests.” In March, Mitchell was sentenced to six months in jail for six counts of petty theft in a plea deal that spared him going to trial on felony charges of grand theft. He entered an Alford plea to the misdemeanors – not admitting guilt but acknowledging he could be convicted by a jury. First District Judge Fred Gibler also sentenced Mitchell to four years of supervised probation and ordered him to pay seven victims a total of $138,832. His stepdaughter, Sarah M. Mitchell, 32, who helped run the shop, received a suspended jail sentence for her Alford plea to one count of petty theft. She received two years of probation and 240 hours of community service, and ordered her to repay more than $100,928 to five victims. “Business owners who are headed down a similar path taken by Mr. Mitchell must stop and contemplate how their misdeeds will damage consumers and the marketplace,” Wasden said in a news release today. “I encourage all business owners who face financial problems to immediately consult with an attorney. Ignoring your customers is not an option.”