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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valley pot grower gets home detention sentence

A Spokane Valley grandfather who openly told nearby law enforcement about his marijuana operation received what is believed to be the lowest federal sentence in decades Thursday when he was ordered to serve six months of home detention. Although he faced a mandatory minimum of five years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of manufacturing marijuana, 55-year-old Paul E. Ellis will be allowed to continue his upholstery business and care for three grandchildren because of his lack of any other criminal history.

Prison term ordered in gun case

A man who has already spent about a third of his life behind bars was sent back for another 15 ½ years after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to a gun possession charge in connection with a double shooting in January. The incident was one of a spate of gang-related shootings earlier this year in Spokane.

DSHS agrees to pay former foster children $5.3 million

The Department of Social and Health Services agreed Monday to pay $5.3 million to four people who were subjected to years of physical and sexual abuse as children in a Stevens County foster home. The payout would be among the highest of its kind in state history and settle a federal lawsuit. Litigation began in 2008, and the case now awaits final approval by U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush.

Woman embezzled $270,000 from law firm

A woman who managed the payroll for a Spokane law firm is headed to prison after embezzling $270,000 to feed her prescription painkiller habit. Dawn L. Balzert, 44, cried as she explained to U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush how her addiction to OxyContin got so out of hand that she was at one point illegally buying the powerful painkiller on the street with money she stole from her employer, the law firm of Lukins & Annis. She initially was prescribed OxyContin by her physician following a surgical procedure.

Tribal member pleads guilty to brutal assault

A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes pleaded guilty today in federal court to brutally beating and kidnapping his wife earlier this year. The beating left his 37-year-old wife seriously injured with two broken orbital bones around her eyes, a broken collar bone and a fractured rib.

Harpham tries to take back plea deal

Leaving a bomb laced with rat poison along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March was merely a “creative idea” to protest multiculturalism, domestic terrorist Kevin W. Harpham told a Spokane judge Tuesday. The explanation was part of an eleventh-hour bid by Harpham, an admitted white supremacist, to withdraw his guilty plea and face trial.

Hells Angel will stay in jail

A federal judge refused Friday to allow Hells Angels sergeant-at-arms Ricky W. Jenks out of jail so he can help with his girlfriend’s pregnancy. U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush chastised Jenks during the hearing, saying Jenks hadn’t earned much consideration from him.

Racist postings allowed at bomb suspect’s trial

A federal judge Friday denied motions from attorneys representing domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham, allowing evidence of racist postings found on Harpham’s computers to be used at his trial. U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush said the searches of Harpham’s home, at 1088 Cannon Way, near Addy, Wash., and at his father’s home in Kettle Falls, Wash., fell “within the four corners of the search warrant.”

Pliers may be allowed as evidence in Harpham trial

A federal judge said Thursday that he is leaning toward allowing prosecutors to show that marks made on the wires of the bomb planted on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Spokane came from a set of pliers owned by Kevin W. Harpham. If he allows the testimony, it would be the first time in a federal trial.

Judge questions plea deal for Hells Angels member

Hells Angels sergeant-at-arms Ricky W. Jenks pleaded guilty Wednesday to being a felon possessing a firearm, but the federal judge handling the case said he wants more time before accepting the plea that calls for two years in prison. U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush questioned why federal prosecutors accepted the agreement for only two years in prison when Jenks faced twice that prison time had the case proceeded to trial.

Judge questions FBI procedures

An FBI plan to not tell domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham why he was arrested has raised the ire of the federal judge presiding over the case of the Stevens County man who is charged with leaving a bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March. According to documents released Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush expressed his “concerns as to the several hour delay in advising Kevin Harpham of the reasons for his arrest after taking him into custody and also the failure to give the defendant Miranda warnings during that several hour period.”