The manager of the Richland Rite Aid allegedly targeted her own store for a robbery so she could give insider intel to her accomplices and open the safe.
Tonya M. Wright, her husband and his brother made off with $6,000 total in cash and bank coin rolls in the Dec. 22 holdup, court documents show.
Tonya and Anthony D. Wright got married four days after James E. Wright went into the store, pointed a revolver at his future sister-in-law and a male clerk and demanded money, documents said.
Anthony Wright, 47, is a career criminal with 11 felony convictions including staging the burglary of a Kennewick payday loan store 16 years ago.
That 2002 crime was similar to the Rite Aid robbery in that Anthony Wright was romantically involved with the Payday Loans manager.
He convinced her to help him break into the safe and make it look like a burglary by claiming she was surprised by masked gunmen. He went to prison for the nearly $22,000 heist while his then-girlfriend got jail time.
In the recent robbery, the trio appeared Wednesday in Benton County District Court, one day after they were arrested.
All were ordered held without bail on suspicion of first-degree robbery. Anthony Wright also faces a possible charge of first-degree unlawful gun possession.
Tonya’s last name at the time was Crowell, Richland police said. During the initial investigation, the 45-year-old reportedly never mentioned her relationship with Anthony.
James Wright, 48, told police that the couple asked him to help because they needed money, court documents said. Tonya told him there were no security cameras at the Rite Aid and passed on when to come into the store, documents said.
Police allege that Tonya and Anthony texted and called each other just before the robbery so she could tell him who was in the store at the time.
“Traffic camera footage shows the suspect waiting in the area and talking on his phone at about the same times as the phone call logs for Tonya and Anthony,” court documents said.
After being confronted in the store by the armed robber, Tonya immediately opened the safe to retrieve cash and rolls of coins while the clerk got cash out of his cash register, documents said.
The money was put in a black duffel bag, then Tonya “told the suspect that was enough and the suspect left.”
Detectives soon discovered that Tonya allegedly had a role in planning and carrying out the robbery.
The newlyweds live on Perkins Avenue in Richland. Their home was searched Tuesday, home where James Wright lives in Pasco.
Police found a .380 handgun on Anthony’s side of the bed and coordinating ammunition elsewhere in the home, court documents said.
Detectives also found a large number of bank coin rolls, documents said. Anthony allegedly told an investigator that he only had small piles of loose change in several different places throughout the house.
Police allege that Tonya and Anthony each pocketed $1,500 from the robbery, and James got $3,000 for going into the store with the gun.
Prosecutors must file charges against the trio by Friday or release them from custody.
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