Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Top cops: Recreational marijuana rules not yet in place

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Well sure, Initiative 502 has passed but don’t think you can walk down the street and light up a bowl without getting arrested.

For starters, the new law regarding marijuana won’t take effect for 30 days, according to Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg.

And rules have to be written, Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said.

“The questions are going to be confusing for people and the police,” Schaffer said yesterday. “We’ve been talking about it from a law enforcement perspective all day.”

The police chiefs of the two largest cities in Lewis County indicate they will be getting guidance from their legal advisors and / or other state and federal authorities.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield is looking to the county prosecutor and a communication from the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington for answers.

Its article disseminated yesterday indicates that as of Dec. 6, it will be legal under state law for individuals 21 or older to possess as much as one ounce of marijuana.

But it will be more than a year before licenses are issued to growers, distributors and retailers, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.

However, the sheriff says: “It is business as usual for us until all this gets finalized.”

The decisions about felony charges, and for misdemeanor crimes when the arrests come from the sheriff’s office and the state patrol in Lewis County are made by the elected prosecutor.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer yesterday morning met with the prosecutor in Thurston County on the topic and is studying the issue.

“We’re going though our analysis, figuring out the impact on us,” Meyer said.

There are still more questions than answers.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Meyer isn’t certain the feds won’t play a role in how or whether the changes unfold.

“I suspect the federal government will step in and maybe issue an injunction,” he said.

The former defense attorney even hinted some police agencies may choose to continue to view marijuana as illegal.

“The way Arizona as a state enforced federal statutes in the immigration issue,” he said.

Mansfield said he’s disappointed, but as the elected sheriff, he serves the people.

“Lewis County said they don’t want this, but it’s statewide,” he said, referring to the preliminary ballot tallies.

Only 44 percent of Lewis County voters favored the measure, while 55 percent of voters throughout Washington said yes to I-502.

“If the law says this is what we’ll do, this is what we’ll do,” Mansfield said.
•••

For further information:

• Chief Schaffer shared a summary to legislators that shed some light for him. Read it here

• “What’s next for pot use in Washington? It’s a bit hazy” from The Olympian on Wednesday November 7, 2012, here

• “Pot legal Dec. 6, ‘jury is out on what happens’ after that” by The Seattle Times on Wednesday November 7, 2012 at 9:14 p.m. and November 8, 2012 at 3:52 p.m., here

• “Inquiries about pot production, sale flood two state agencies” from The Olympian on Thursday November 8, 2012, here

Remains discovered on Joerk Road in Randle finally ID’d as missing local woman

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Skeletal remains found in Randle last year have been positively identified as a woman who disappeared from her Randle home about a mile and a half away several months before.

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Trisha McKenzie-Fire

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office said this morning they are those of 58-year-old Trisha McKenzie-Fire.

The determination was made through a joint effort by a forensic anthropologist in King County and a local dentist who specializes in making identification through teeth, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.

McKenzie-Fire was reported missing by her live-in boyfriend in April 2011. Kent Anderson said he woke up one morning and she was gone from their home on Silverbrook Road, although she left her purse behind. Human remains were found the following September in a field on Joerk Road in Randle.

The cause and manner of her death remain under investigation, according to McLeod.

Anderson has since died. McLeod said all efforts to locate and notify McKenzie-Fire’s next-of-kin have been unsuccessful
•••

For background, read: “Breaking news: Human remains found in Randle” from Monday Sept. 26,  2011, here

Judge says no to prisoner’s self-crafted motion to dismiss Morton homicide conviction

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
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Jack Silverthorne is unrepresented in Lewis County Superior Court as he asks a judge to dismiss his manslaughter conviction.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 21-year-old sent off to prison last year after admitting he fatally punched a 16-year-old Morton boy in the head was back in court yesterday, asking to be set free.

Jack A. Silverthorne, now 22, filed a motion in Lewis County Superior Court from his cell at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Eastern Washington.

“It’s based on he’s never been in trouble before, and he was encouraged to take the plea,” his mother Kathryn Silverthorne said.

Silverthorne said her son rightfully ought to have been convicted of something less than he was, but didn’t understand, and just did what his defense attorney told him to do.

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Austin King

The Renton resident was arrested in November 2010 in connection with the death of Austin King that summer.

The 16-year-old vanished from his family’s home in the Tilton River Mobile Home Park early on June 23 and was the subject of a month-long search headed up by volunteers. His body was found some 10 miles away off a logging road outside Morton.

Silverthorne was staying with his grandmother in the trailer park and was one of two “buddies” Austin was with the last time Austin’s mother saw her son alive.

Since there was no trial, the details of exactly what happened or why were never revealed in court. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office believed there was a fight about a girl.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, Silverthorne pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter – recklessly causing the death of another person – and was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, the high end of the standard sentencing range for the crime.

He sat before Judge James Lawler yesterday afternoon without an attorney.

The hearing was brief. Silverthorne’s mother and sister were the only spectators in the Chehalis courtroom.

Yesterday was the first time she’d seen her son since he was sentenced early last year, his mother said. He was almost unrecognizable, she said. Since he was locked up, her son has lost a huge amount of weight, she said.

Kathryn Silverthorne said she understands the weight loss is due to medication prescribed after he was diagnosed in jail or prison with bipolar disease.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher objected to the self-crafted motion.

Lawler denied the motion, but noted it was more appropriately filed with the state Court of Appeals as a personal restraint petition. The judge certified the documents to be filed as such.

Outside the courtroom, Meagher said Silverthorne has the right to file the petition, that basically asks to be let out of prison.

But Meagher wasn’t optimistic about that happening.

Personal restraint petitions are usually something filed after someone is found guilty, Meagher said.

“But he pled guilty,” he said.

•••

For background, read “Morton teen homicide case ends with guilty plea” from Saturday May 7, 2011, here

Breaking news: Worker critical after stabbing at Centralia meat plant

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says deputies were searching for a 35-year-old man after he stabbed a co-worker in the neck at the Beef Shop on Airport Road this morning.

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Sabino Gomez Barriga

It happened about 11:30 a.m., according to Brown.

The victim is in critical condition at Providence Centralia Hospital, she said.

The suspect, Sabino Gomez Barriga of Chehalis, fled the scene on foot shortly after it occurred, according to Brown. He was taken into custody and is enroute to the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown.

Brown says little is known about the victim at this time. Deputies are waiting for an interpreter to arrive at the hospital to learn more about what occurred, she said.

Centralia drug trafficking informant made “errors in judgement”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Court documents in the case of Donato Valle Vega shed light on why the 40-something Centralia car lot owner met with federal agents in Borst Park two years ago and then took them to his Harrison Avenue business and showed them pounds of drugs he had hidden in the attic.

Valle Vega was working as an informant with the FBI, assisting with an investigation of members of a Mexican drug trafficking cartel, according to his defense attorney Robert Leen.

After talking with an FBI agent and another from the DEA in early September 2010, Valle Vega admitted he had drugs, told them how much, offered to take them to the business and told them they could search both his car lot and his stash house, Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Thomas and Darwin Roberts wrote in their trial brief.

The agents retrieved approximately four kilos of cocaine and 33 pounds of methamphetamine from Emmanuel Auto Sales that day, according to court documents. Two weeks later Centralia police assisted federal law enforcement officers with the arrest.

Valle Vega was convicted late last month of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and a second similar count related to methamphetamine, in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

He faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced, according to Assistant United States Attorney Thomas.

Both Thomas and Leen declined to talk about the case further until after sentencing.

Leen in his pretrial memo brief however wrote that his client admitted he had drugs the agents didn’t know about, but said he believed if he didn’t appear to go along with the suppliers’ plan it would mean death for him and his family, both in Centralia and in Mexico.

Valle Vega indicated he felt trapped because the men associated with the drugs were in Centralia but that as soon as they left, he gave information about the drugs, Leen wrote.

Leen, who is based in Everett, noted his client may have made some errors in judgement regarding his contacts with the drugs, but said it was out of fear.

The story begins, according to documents in the court file, on Sept. 1, 2010, the day before Valle Vega met with the agents in the Centralia park.

According to the documents: Law enforcement agents observed what they believed were narcotic being loaded into a BMW with Utah license plates at Emmanuel Auto Sales at the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

At least three federal agents met with Valle Vega the following day and took the drugs. Valle Vega told them he’d received the drugs in July and had already distributed one and half kilograms of cocaine in August.

He told them they’d been provided to him by Salome Flores Apodaca, and the source was Apodaca’s brother, Augustine Flores Apodaca. They’d been sent to him concealed in a vehicle that had been brought to his auto sales business on a car hauler from Arizona.

That same day agents and Valle Vega were looking through his attic, Utah State troopers stopped the BMW in Brigham City and subsequently discovered about a pound of methamphetamine tucked into its gas tank.

The agents met with Valle Vega in Kelso a few days later. On Sept 17, they arrested him.

Federal prosecutors set out to prove the Centralia man possessed pounds of drugs that no drug trafficking organization would have provided to a person without the expectation they would be further distributed.

Neither of the trial briefs offer information about who or where Valle Vega’s customers were.

The trial lasted about four days and the jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged.

A forfeiture hearing regarding the property on Harrison Avenue is scheduled for Jan. 4. Sentencing is set for Jan. 25.

Thomas said the minimum term is 10 years in prison.

•••

For background, read “Centralia auto business arrest followed discovery of almost 10 pounds of cocaine” from Wednesday September 29, 2010, here

Autopsy finds lacerations, bullet wounds on man shot by sheriff’s deputy

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Napavine man fatally shot by a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy early Thursday had superficial cuts on the side of his neck and on one wrist but he died from gunshot wounds to his head and stomach, according to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Gregory S. Kaufman, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene off the side of state Route 6 after an encounter with Deputy Matt Wallace around 12:15 a.m.

Wallace said when he approached the parked car near Boistfort to see if the driver needed assistance, a heavily bleeding man lunged out of his vehicle with a large knife, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Few other details have been released; the sheriff’s office says more information will come from an investigation conducted by a team of deputies from surrounding counties.

Coroner Warren McLeod said yesterday the autopsy determined the lacerations did not contribute to Kaufman’s death.

Wallace, a nine year member of the sheriff’s office, is on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sixteen months ago when another Lewis County deputy fatally shot a citizen, it was about a week and a half later when the prosecutor completed his review of the outside investigation as to whether the shooting was justified.

An internal investigation was completed about a week after that.

In that case, Deputy Matt McKnight was cleared, but the family of 33-year-old Steven V. Petersen has recently filed a lawsuit saying McKnight engaged in a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement.
•••

For background, read “Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6″ from Thursday November 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m., here

Missing Morton man found dead off forest road south of Randle

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
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William “Bill” Osborne celebrated his 80th birthday with family in February at his home in Morton. / Courtesy photo

Updated at 3 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The truck belonging to 80-year-old Morton resident William H. Osborne III was found yesterday evening some 600 feet down an embankment off Forest Service Road 26 south of Randle, according to his family.

He didn’t survive.

Dozens of family, friends and law enforcement officers have been combing the roadways of East Lewis County after Osborne was reported missing on Tuesday.

“This is what we were expecting all week, that when he was found he would be gone,” his niece Sharon Hopf of Orting said this morning. “But it’s still not easy.”

Osborne had breakfast with a friend on Monday morning, purchased his deer and elk tag in Morton at mid-day and apparently didn’t return home that night, according to law enforcement.

His son Bill arrived in town on Tuesday for a planned hunting outing and reported him missing. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he told his friend he would be going hunting at Ryan Lake which is off Forest Service Road 26 south of East Lewis County in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

“They think he was headed there, that’s what they think,” one of Osborne’s five daughters said today. “I don’t think he was going hunting, he didn’t have his rifle. I think he was going scouting.”

The daughter Meloney Olds stayed at his home in Morton this morning while her brother and two of her sisters met with authorities to recover Osborne’s body.

Olds said as many as 30 to 40 people off and on all week have been at the home, a base for search parties.

The son of Cody’s restaurant owner discovered some tire tracks yesterday, she said. “One of our search groups from I-90 Motorsports climbed down,” she said.

They’re assuming it happened quick, which is some comfort, she said.

The New Jersey born man lived near Renton where he retired from the phone company, then moved to Morton in the mid-1990s, according to his family. He has six children, 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, Olds said.

She said her family wanted to make sure everyone understood how grateful they are for looking for their dad.

“He had a friend named Curt, Curt probably put 1,000 miles on his truck this week,” he said.

While Lewis County Search and Rescue never did launch a search mission, Deputy Tim English and a deputy from Skamania County helped organize the family and friends who volunteered to search, she said.

“It’s amazing, the amount of people that came out looking for him,” she said.

•••

For background, read “Be on the lookout: Missing silver pickup, and its elderly driver” from Thursday November 1, 2012, here

Ethel teen arrested for allegedly beating puppy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
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The 5-month-old German shepherd is expected to make a full recovery. / Courtesy photo by The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An intoxicated 19-year-old Lewis County resident was jailed after he allegedly punched a 5-month-old German shepherd in the face and – his family said – may have thrown it against a tree.

A sheriff’s deputy called about 12:45 a.m. today to a home on Oyler Road in Ethel was told Jesse Pegram was out of control and had beaten the family pet.

Pegram was agitated when he was found outside in the street and asked to be arrested, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He said he needed help, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The dog needed help too.

The puppy suffered injuries to her face and was limping, according to Brown. Her eye was extremely swollen and blood shot, Brown said.

The family had no transportation to take to the animal to be seen, so the deputy contacted a veterinarian who agreed to meet the deputy at the clinic and do an examination, according to Brown.

The doctor found it had a leg injury and apparent head trauma, but no obvious broken bones, according to Brown.

Pegram was checked out at the hospital before being booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree animal cruelty, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown didn’t say what the teenager was upset about.

But the vet, at Cascade Veterinary Hospital in Centralia, was optimistic the puppy would make a full recovery, Brown said.

Breaking News: Coroner releases name of Napavine man shot by deputy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Updated at 9:03 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office this morning identified the man shot by a sheriff’s deputy yesterday as Gregory S. Kaufman.

Kaufman is 64 years old and a Napavine resident.

Coroner Warren McLeod said an autopsy later today should provide answers and details about the cause of death, the number of times he was shot and what were the injuries Deputy Matt Wallace saw that he thought were self-inflicted.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Deputy Wallace approached Kaufman’s parked car off state Route 6 early yesterday morning and a heavily bleeding man lunged out of the car with a large knife.

The deputy is on paid leave as the shooting is being investigated by a team of outside law enforcement officers.

Coroner McLeod said Kaufman has no family he could find. His office learned from Kaufman’s girlfriend that he is divorced, has no children and his parents are deceased, according to McLeod.

•••

For background, read “Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6″ from Thursday November 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m., here

Be on the lookout: Missing silver pickup, and its elderly driver

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
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Osborn drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup similar to this one, but with a white utility canopy. A horse logo on one side says “Little Creek Paso Finos”

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

There’s still no sign of 80-year-old William Osborne who was last seen Monday buying a hunting license in Morton, according to police.

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William H. Osborne

While a traditional search mission has not been put in place, law enforcement officers have been combing roadways in East Lewis County day and night, Morton Police Department Officer Perry Royle said this evening.

On Tuesday night, Royle and a sheriff’s deputy drove every road on Peterman Hill and around the Cowlitz wildlife area south of Morton, Royle said.

“We covered every single spur road that didn’t have a gate,” he said.

Deputies have been traveling Forest Service roads around Randle and even in the Toutle area, he said.

The Morton man made plans to meet his son in Morton on Tuesday, but when the son showed up, his father was nowhere to be found.

Police are thinking because Osborne is not very mobile, he’ll be with his truck.

They couldn’t get anyone in the air to search for it because of the clouds, Royle said.

Police are hoping to get the truck’s description out to the many elk hunters who will populate the hills beginning this weekend, Royle said.

Osborne drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup with a white utility canopy. Its license plate is B67640P.

“We’re still assuming he went shooting or hunting,” Royle said.

Osborne, who lives alone, is 5-feet 8-inches tall and about 185 pounds. His neighbors think he didn’t return home on Monday night. His cell phone was last used around 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

Royle said Osborne’s household is full of family members looking for him as well.

Update: The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Osborne told a friend at breakfast on Monday he was going to hunt at Ryan Lake, which is off Forest Service Road 26 south of East Lewis County in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with any information on his whereabouts to call 911 immediately.

•••

For a little more, read: “Eighty-year-old Morton man not seen since Monday” from Wednesday October 31, 2012 at 10:58 a.m., here

Photo of the missing Kayla Croft-Payne to be featured on long-haul trucks

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
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Posters featuring Kayla Croft-Payne will travel around the country on sides of trucks.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The face of a missing Chehalis girl will soon be pasted poster-sized on the sides of truck trailers that travel throughout the country.

Kayla Croft-Payne was reported missing on May 5, 2010  by a friend who hadn’t seen or heard from her for several days. She was 18 years old and living outside Chehalis.

Gordon Trucking, in Pacific, will unveil Croft-Payne’s poster on Friday morning adding it to their fleet that highlights missing children from Washington and Oregon.

“The whole idea is just to get, in her case to get her picture out there,” Washington State Patrol Lt. Ron Mead said. “They get a lot of exposure they wouldn’t otherwise get.”

Mead said her image will be placed on multiple trailers.

Gordon Trucking already features other youngsters, such as Kyron Horman, who was 7 years old when he disappeared in Portland. A new age-progressed picture of Kyron and two other children are currently being added to the fleet, according to Mead.

It’s part of a partnership called Homeward Bound, involving private industry and the state patrol, according to Mead.

When Croft-Payne turned 18, she got several thousand dollars from a trust fund and moved into an apartment in Chehalis. Neither her father or her mother knew a lot about the friends their daughter was hanging out with in the months before she vanished.

Last year, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it had followed tips up into Pierce County, and down into Cowlitz County, saying the last place they could verify she was seen was a trailer park in the Toutle area.

“As long as there is hope, we have a responsibility to keep that hope alive,” Mead said.
•••

For background, read “Kayla Croft-Payne: Missing Lewis County teen’s parents still seeking answers” from Friday March 25, 2011, here

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Dan Coon of the state patrol says Kayla Croft-Payne’s picture will be on the trailers of five big rigs that travel throughout the Northwest and Canada. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
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A team of outside law enforcement officers finished up their scene investigation this morning where a deputy fatally shot a Napavine man along state Route 6 near Boistfort.

Updated at 8:52 a.m., 9:11 a.m. and 5:06 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Lewis County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a motorist west of Adna this morning the sheriff’s office said lunged out of his vehicle with a knife.

It happened about 12:17 a.m. on the 2300 block of state Route 6, according to the sheriff’s office.

The dead man is identified only as a 64-year-old Napavine resident.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office: The deputy was on routine patrol when he saw a car parked in a turnout and stopped to see if the driver needed assistance.

“When the deputy approached the vehicle he observed a man with, what appeared to be, self-inflicted lacerations and bleeding heavily,” the sheriff’s office states. “When the deputy tried to speak with the man, the man lunged out of his vehicle with a large knife and charged the deputy.”

The sheriff’s office says the deputy was forced to shoot to avoid being attacked.

Aid was summoned and the motorist was pronounced dead shortly after aid arrived, according to the sheriff’s office.

A team of outside law enforcement officers was summoned to the scene near Boistfort this morning to investigate.

The unnamed deputy is a nine-year veteran of the office. He is being put on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

The incident took place at a large gravel turnout just east of the South Fork Chehalis RIver Bridge near Boistfort.

The deputy was alone when it occurred, according to Brown.

Asked what made the deputy think the man’s injuries were self inflicted, she said: Because there was nobody else around.

The sheriff’s office has no reason to believe there was anyone else involved, according to Brown.

She said the dead man’s name will be released by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office, which customarily doesn’t happen until family has been notified.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said his office is working to locate the next-of-kin and then confirm the identity of the deceased. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

A stretch of state Route 6 between Spooner Road and Boistfort Road was shut down until about 6:30 a.m. for the investigation, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

It was just 16 months ago when another Lewis County deputy fatally shot another Napavine man. In June 2011, Deputy Matt McKnight opened fire on a 33-year-old man he thought was armed with a knife on a residential street in Napavine.

That incident too occurred at night time, and McKnight said Steven V. Petersen began to charge him.

The deputy was cleared but last month Petersen’s family filed a lawsuit saying McKnight engaged in a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement.

Glenoma resident pleads guilty in California multi-million dollar mortgage fraud

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A former Southern California woman who now lives in Glenoma pleaded guilty today to charges in connection with orchestrating a mortgage fraud scheme convincing lenders to fund more than $20 million in loans on approximately three dozen properties in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Wanda Coleman, 59, admitted to one count of mail fraud pursuant to a plea agreement filed under seal in U.S. District Court in Portland, according to authorities.

Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Robbins said Coleman had a film company and some of the proceeds were used to finance films and some for personal use.

She is a former resident of Pauma Valley in San Diego County, he said. He said he couldn’t say exactly if she had family or other connections that prompted her to relocate to Lewis County.

Robbins said Coleman recruited straw buyers who offered to pay sellers substantially more than their asking price in return for the sellers’ agreement to refund the excess amount to her or companies she controlled.

She and co-conspirators submitted mortgage applications that contained false information regarding the buyers’ employment, income and assets as well as omitted material information, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office.

The buyers ultimately defaulted on the loans, resulting in foreclosures and losses of more than $11 million to the lenders, Robbins said.

The indictment was filed a year ago, but covered activities from as early as 2005 and into 2009, he said. It’s the kind of scheme which was easier to pull off before the housing market crashed and transactions tightened up, he said.

Three others have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, as well as two more individuals in related cases, according to Robbins. The so-called straw buyers were not charged, he said.

“The mortgage broker, the escrow agent, they were all in on it,” Robbins said.

Participants also forged bank statements and prepared other fraudulent documents to corroborate the false claims, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office.

Robbins said he only knew of the one film Coleman was involved in called “Samurai Woman”.

The case grew out of an investigation by the FBI and originated in the United States Attorneys Office in the Central District of California. It was transferred to the District of Oregon for entry of the plea and sentencing because of the proximity to Coleman’s new residence, Robbins said.

She will be sentenced on Jan. 25 in Portland. The maximum sentence is 30 years but the details in the plea agreement are under seal for now.

Eighty-year-old Morton man not seen since Monday

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An 80-year-old Morton man who lives alone was reported missing yesterday after his grown son arrived at the man’s residence for a planned hunting outing to find nobody home.

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William H. Osborne

William H. Osborne was last seen on Monday purchasing a hunting license at Tri Mountain Sports & Radio Shack in town, according to the Morton Police Department.

“We’re putting all resources into locating him, obviously time is of the essence,” Chief Dan Mortensen said this morning.

Osborne’s family describes him as possibly having some short term memory loss and he’s not very mobile because of his age, Mortensen said. He’s 5-feet 8-inches tall and about 185 pounds.

One challenge is it’s virtually impossible to activate a search and rescue mission because they have no specific location to start looking, the chief said.

Osborne’s family is in the area looking and police have alerted local law enforcement and surrounding agencies, according to Mortensen.

Osborne drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup with a white utility canopy. Its license plate is B67640P.

He and his son spoke around 11:30 a.m. on Monday and that’s the last time Osborne’s cell phone was used, the chief said. He purchased the hunting license between noon and 2 p.m.

The son, who lives in Orting, showed up yesterday to meet his father, and then checked a local restaurant before calling police, Mortensen said.

Police tried unsuccessfully to “ping” the cell phone to learn its location, he said.

His neighbors didn’t think he came home Monday night, the chief said.

“We don’t know where he is,” Mortensen said. “His son thought he could have gone up into the mountains to shoot his gun, possibly grouse hunting.”

Synthetic marijuana found at Chehalis fire station building

Friday, October 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Chehalis firefighter has been charged with possession of synthetic marijuana after “Spice” wrappers were found in the trash in the fire station building.

Adam Myer, 42, resigned from the department last week.

The one count of possession of a controlled substance filed in Lewis County Superior Court is a class C felony.

Myer denied using the drug during work hours.

Spice is one of numerous products that were legal until about a year ago, according to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.

“You used to be able to buy them over the counter,” Meagher said.

According to charging documents and Chehalis police, a police detective this summer was interviewing fire department employees about suspected thefts of small amounts of cash around the department.

That investigation didn’t lead to anything, but Chief Kelvin Johnson told the detective about a garbage bag containing suspicious empty packaging which had been discovered in the bathroom of the old police department next door.

Detective Rick Silva was told Myer spent a lot of his off-duty time at the station and at one point had spent several hours in that restroom, which his co-workers thought was odd.

The residue found with the wrappers was tested at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Vancouver and had a chemical known as Naphthoylindole, which is now classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, according to charging documents.

Spice refers to a mixture of herbs typically sprayed with a synthetic compound similar chemically to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; it is usually smoked, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is known by various labels including or K-2, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie and Zohai, according to the DEA.

The documents allege Myer told the detective on July 20 the packaging was his, but he had not used the substance for some time and “straightened up” after a long talk with a fellow firefighter.

Chief Kelvin Johnson was unavailable to offer comment on Myer’s employment status, but co-workers yesterday said Myer last worked on July 20 and resigned last week.

Myer confirmed that yesterday, and said he didn’t want to discuss the case.

He said he has a medical condition that forced him to give up his job.

He disputed he admitted to the detective the Spice packaging was his.

“I never knowingly bought anything illegal,” Myer said. “It was a legal product bought from a store in Chehalis.”

He said it was perhaps unwise, but not against the law as far as he knew.

Myer said that after he spoke with detective Silva the first time, stores in Chehalis were still selling the product, saying he knew of three local businesses engaged in its sale for the better part of the summer.

“If they’re going to consider something illegal, they ought to prevent the sale of it, so people don’t unwittingly buy it,” Myer said.

Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said  he isn’t aware of any businesses still selling the banned products.

It’s not something officers saw a whole lot of, although it did start to increase a little bit not long before it was banned, according to Kaut.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy last autumn permanently banned the sale, possession and use of chemicals contained in products such as Spice, K-2, Bath Salts and others, made with either synthetic marijuana or synthetic stimulants.

An increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement prompted the DEA to control the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana beginning in March of last year. A measure signed in to federal law this summer added 26 synthetic drugs to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Deputy Prosecutor Meagher said no merchants have been charged in Lewis County under the new law. Less than five individuals locally have been charged with possession, Meagher said.

Myer has been summonsed to appear in court on Nov. 6.

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In Cowlitz County, prosecutors recently dismissed similar charges against two individuals because at the time they possessed the substances, it was not illegal yet to possess them. Read about it here