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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fraud convict gets nine years in prison despite terminal cancer diagnosis

In a wide-ranging fraud scheme that stole more than $2 million and once involved a planned visit to Coeur d’Alene by Los Angeles Lakers President Earvin “Magic” Johnson, a Los Angeles man was sentenced Friday to nine years in federal prison despite testimony that he has only 18 months to live.

Lawyer, 76, accused of rape, false imprisonment

A 76-year-old Spokane lawyer was booked into the Spokane County Jail on Friday on charges of rape and unlawful imprisonment. Robert Caruso, who made a failed bid to be Spokane County prosecutor eight years ago, turned himself in at the Public Safety Building around 2 p.m. Friday after the Washington attorney general’s office issued a warrant for his arrest. Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker asked the attorney general’s office to prosecute the case.

Scope of drug case causes court problems

A courtroom packed with attorneys and 21 of the 62 defendants tied to a massive Oxycontin distribution ring between Spokane and Los Angeles appeared in court today as a federal judge tried to set guidelines for how the complex case will move forward.

Judge vacates convictions in disputed robbery

Family members gasped with joy and wept Friday as a judge threw out the disputed robbery convictions of three Spokane men who have argued for years that they were framed by a snitch who was trying to spare himself and his brother from longer prison terms.

Court upends fines put on prosecutors

The Washington Supreme Court has erased penalties levied against prosecutors who changed the date of a suspected robbery on the day the case was set for trial. The unanimous court ruling Thursday is the latest twist in the case of three men who were convicted of a home-invasion robbery and drive-by shooting only to have another man say after the trial that it was he who had committed the crime and then helped implicate the other three men. The case stemmed from a robbery and drive-by shooting trial against Tyler W. Gassman, Robert E. Larson and Paul E. Statler.

State’s high court reverses prosecutor sanction

The Washington Supreme Court today reversed sanctions levied by a Spokane County judge against a prosecutor who changed the date of a suspected robbery on the day the case was set for trial.

Airway Heights man awarded $300,000 in suit over traffic stop

A jury awarded an Airway Heights man $300,000 in Federal Court after he sued a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputy over a traffic stop that ended with the man being tackled to the pavement. The jury found that Deputy Dale Moyer was negligent in calling in the wrong license plate number when he stopped a car in which John W. Jenkins was riding. The number Moyer called in came back as a stolen vehicle.

Controversial convictions upheld

In a split decision with a strongly worded dissent, local appellate judges decided 2-1 today to uphold the convictions of three men even after someone later confessed to helping frame them for crimes they didn't commit.

Gunman at Hoopfest pleads guilty to assault

The Hoopfest gunman who opened fire on rival gang members last year, injuring three bystanders in the downtown Spokane crowd, pleaded guilty Wednesday to assault charges. Miguel C. Garcia, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He’s expected to serve nearly nine years in prison; sentencing is set for April 12. Since he used a gun in the commission of the assaults, six years of the agreed upon 105-month sentence will be served as part of a weapon enhancement.

Court upholds prosecutorial sanction

Appellate judges on Thursday upheld a $2,000 sanction levied against the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office for how it handled the trial of three men convicted of robbery and drive-by shooting – a case that a main witness later claimed was a set-up. Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen earlier said that the $8,000 she levied against the prosecutor’s office was the first major sanction she imposed in her career. Eitzen fined Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz after he waited until the day the trial was set to begin to change the date of the alleged offense from April 15 to April 17, 2008.

Defense lawyers claim overkill on Hoopfest charges

Defense attorneys told a judge today that prosecutors don’t have a legal basis for a long list of attempted murder charges levied against three of four men in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest that injured three bystanders.

Federal court hears Zehm case beginning Monday

A trial that starts Monday in federal court is as much about the credibility of the Spokane Police Department as it is the officer charged with using excessive force and lying to investigators, some in Spokane’s legal community say. City detectives found no wrongdoing by fellow Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. and told Spokane County prosecutors that they could find no evidence that he used excessive force when he beat Otto Zehm with a police baton and shocked him with a Taser on March 18, 2006. Other officers joined the struggle and Zehm eventually was hogtied for about 17 minutes, a plastic mask with a dime-size breathing hole on his face, before he stopped breathing.

Attorney, client shed tears over sentence for armed robbery

Tears streamed down the face of defense attorney David Partovi as his client, 22-year-old Tyler W. Gassman, cried Tuesday and listened to his sister plead for justice. “I don’t know what to say,” Partovi told Superior Court Judge Michael Price after his client was ordered to serve nearly 26 years in prison. “I just want the record to reflect and mankind to know that this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen come out of the courts. For the first time in my entire career, I’m ashamed to be an officer of this court.”