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Read about changes at Medic One, Toledo Fire Department …

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Winlock’s Town Crier reports the board of Lewis County Medic One eliminated the position held by Grant Wiltbank, who has long been the face of the shared ambulance service.

Reporter-editor Stephen Floyd writes the move came at a Tuesday regular meeting amidst funding challenges and a lettering detailing a no confidence vote from the medics’ union members.

The group, originally the Interlocal Organization of Lewis County Fire Districts 2, 7 and 15 serving the areas of Toledo, Vader-Ryderwood and Winlock, grew to provide services in central Lewis County. Recently Lewis County Fire District 5 in Napavine began contracting with AMR instead.

Floyd also writes Wiltbank was terminated in December as chief of Toledo’s Lewis County Fire District 2.

For more, read “Medic One eliminates role of operations chief” from Tuesday Thursday February 17, 2015, here

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News brief: Three men on the short list for Centralia police chief

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three police chief hopefuls were interviewed yesterday in Centralia as the city continues its work to replace outgoing Chief Bob Berg.

The men include Centralia Police Department Cmdr. Jim Rich, Capt. Carl Nielsen of the Turlock (California) Police Department and  Lt. Maury Richards of the Chicago Police Department.

Centralia City Manager Rob Hill said this morning he will probably make an offer to one of them early next week.

Twenty applications from the nationwide search that began in December were narrowed down to five finalists who were interviewed by city department heads and select community members on Tuesday.

Berg is retiring in May.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs has been assisting with the recruitment and hiring process.

•••

For background, read “Police chief hopefuls undergo two days of questioning in Centralia” from Wednesday February 18, 2015, here
•••

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James Rich

 

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Carl Nielsen

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Maurice Richards

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News brief: Oakville house burns, no one hurt

Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 8:46 am
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Smoke billows from single-story house near Oakville. / Courtesy photo by Grays Harbor Fire District 5

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Four fire departments battled a blaze that broke out yesterday outside of Oakville, destroying a single story home and its contents.

“No injuries, just an extremely broken up family,” Grays Harbor County Fire District 1 spokesperson Shawn Burdett said.

The fire at Southbank Road and Craftdale Road about four miles northwest of town was reported by a neighbor about 12:48 p.m., Burdett said.

It spread throughout the house rather quickly, he said.

The cause is not yet known, he said.

The department was assisted by Grays Harbor Fire District’s 5, 2, 12, West Thurston Regional Fire Authority and Riverside Fire Authority hauling water with a half dozen tenders.

“I just want to say we all are tremendously thankful to the other agencies,” Burdett said. “Without their help, this would have been much worse.”

Burdett said he hoped to have more information later to release.

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Police chief hopefuls undergo two days of questioning in Centralia

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 6:01 pm
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Centralia City Manager Rob Hill, wearing cap, huddles with the five finalists for police chief after a public gathering at the train depot.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – In suits, ties and shiny shoes, they chatted, shook hands and answered questions from a small number of people who came out to meet them last night; the five men hoping to become Centralia’s next chief of police.

The short meet and greet in a conference room at the Centralia train depot followed a day of interviews from one panel of department heads and another comprised of select members of the community.

Newly elected Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said he was kind of excited to see who would end up getting the job.

“We’re fortunate to have this caliber of candidates,” Snaza said. “We’re all about us working together.”

Snaza was one of five who had spoken to the finalists earlier in the day. Joining him in the interviews were Jenny Collins, executive director of the Visiting Nurses Foundation; Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer; Lacey Police Department Chief Dusty Pierpont; and Centralia College Athletic Director Bob Peters.

Centralia City Manager Rob Hill likewise seemed enthusiastic about the quality of the individuals he has to choose from.

“I’m pretty confident our next chief will come out of this group,” Hill said.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg is retiring in May, after 11 years in the job. With assistance from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the city began a nationwide search in December, and screened applications from 20 individuals.

The pay for the head of the department with 31 commissioned officers in Lewis County’s most populated city was advertised as between about $100,000 and $122,000.

Two of the group come from the banks of Lake Michigan.

James Held has been chief of the Lake Forest (Illinois) Police Department for almost three years, an organization with 40 sworn officers.

Thirty miles to the south, Lt. Maury Richards has been with the Chicago Police Department for 23 years.

Carl Nielsen is a captain, and second in command at the Turlock Police Department in California’s central valley.

Closer to home, Rod Baker comes from the Pierce Transit Police Department, which he created. Baker is on a yearlong sabbatical to get his degree in criminal justice administration

And from inside the Centralia Police Department, Cmdr. James Rich is hoping to become its next chief.

Rich, with 33 years of law enforcement experience, said the agency has made huge strides in the past 10 to 15 years. He wants to help see it continue down that path, he said.

Hill planned to conduct his interviews today, and expects to do his background checking in person, on one or more of his final choices, he said.

He has no set date for when he will make his decision, he said.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Updated at 7:33 p.m.

CANINE SLAIN, RELATIVE ARRESTED

• Deputies arrested an 18-year-old Randle resident yesterday for allegedly shooting his grandfather’s dog. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says it happened about 11:25 a.m. in a driveway on the 100 block of Kelly Lane in Randle, and was possibly in retaliation for an earlier incident. The 2-year-old Labrador-Pit Bull mix was struck twice and died at the scene, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Brown said when deputies subsequently contacted the suspect on Kiona Road, he said he was someone else, so he was arrested for obstruction and animal cruelty. Kolby G. Mullins was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• Centralia police took a report of a burglary to a business on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue about 11:30 a.m. yesterday.

MISSING CANOE FOUND, ONE ARRESTED

• A 35-year-old homeless man from East Lewis County was arrested yesterday for five counts of trafficking in stolen property, in connection with a November burglary at the 100 block of Chapman Road in Morton. Some of the property recovered includes a canoe, fishing poles and a chainsaw, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Brian J. Elmore was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. He was released with no charges filed, pending further investigation.

VEHICLE PROWL

•  Police took a report yesterday morning of a vehicle prowl at the 900 block of Northwest State Avenue in Chehalis in which someone shattered a window with chunks of concrete, and tried to pry out the radio. Nothing appeared to be missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The damage is estimated at $1,000, according to police.

FRUSTRATED INMATE IN TROUBLE

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said an inmate yesterday who got upset because a button got stuck on a telephone kiosk, took a broom handle to it causing approximately $1,100 in damage. In the inmate’s own words also, “because he hadn’t had caffeine in months,” Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The case against Sean M. Ferrel, of Bremerton, is being referred to prosecutors for a charge of second-degree malicious mischief, according to the sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 63-year-old Olympia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine overnight after contact with an officer about 2 a.m. at the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Fred L. Campbell was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• Bail was set at $15,000 for a 19-year-old Pe Ell resident accused of taking three guns plus ammunition from a Pe Ell home, giving one of them to a 16-year-old to go shooting with and then putting the others back in a shed on the property. Brady A. Clair, also known as Brady A. Jenkins, was arrested on Friday and went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court. According to charging documents, a break-in was reported early last week by a caretaker of a residence on the 700 block of Main Street in Pe Ell. The allegations go on to state the town marshal spoke to the 16-year-old boy and his mother on Friday, who said Clair told him he stole the .22 revolver and two other handguns from a military veteran. The boy gave the marshal the gun, who also recovered the other two weapons, according to the documents. Clair, who was previously convicted of a felony possession of an incendiary device, was charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, with possessing a stolen firearm and with delivery of a firearm to an ineligible person. Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge her client is engaging in an educational program at Pe Ell High School and not employed and therefore qualified for a court-appointed lawyer. Don Blair was appointed to represent him. Charging documents make note that Brady’s mother on Saturday told the marshal she found information in her son’s Facebook messaging where he reportedly told an individual he has 29 or 30 handguns and rifles buried in the woods outside Pe Ell. His arraignment is tomorrow.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, shoplifting, protection order violation, suspicious circumstances, possible child abuse, complaint of someone leaving cat poop on a doorstep … and more.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm

PANTS DOWN IN WAL-MART

• A 64-year-old man from Oregon was arrested after he was observed in the men’s department in Wal-Mart with his pants down, touching himself. An officer responding about 8:30 a.m. on Friday to the retailer on Northwest Louisiana Avenue arrested James W. Webb, from Eagle Creek, Oregon, for indecent exposure, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

PANTS DOWN ALONG CITY STREET

• A 41-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for indecent exposure after she was seen with her pants down in public off 13th Street near Market Boulevard in Chehalis on Friday afternoon. Kristine M. Hiatt was intoxicated and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police responded about 5:45 p.m. yesterday to a report of a burglary at a home on the 400 block of South Silver Street where games and gaming equipment were stolen. The victim was able to possibly identify a suspect and this case is still under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BREAK-IN CHEHALIS

• A Chehalis area resident discovered on Saturday that someone cut the padlock on her outbuilding and stole various personal property including a sander, weed eater, gas can, spray guns. She told a deputy it must have happened sometime during the previous month at the 1000 block of Coal Creek Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Chehalis police were called about 2 p.m. on Friday after a resident returned home to see her front door ajar and a male standing inside the front door of her apartment. “He tried to say he was looking for a cat or a dog, she told him to get out and he left,” Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. “Nothing was missing.” It happened at the 1900 block of South Market Boulevard, according to police.

MISSING UNDERCLOTHES

• Chehalis police took a theft report on Saturday evening from a guest at a motel on the 100 block of Southwest Interstate Avenue. They said they returned to their room, found it had been cleaned and discovered items missing from inside a backpack, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Gone was a Visa card, perfume and new underwear, according to police. The case remains under investigation.

HARASSMENT WINLOCK

• A 54-year-old Winlock man was arrested over the weekend for allegedly making threats to a relative. It happened on Sunday and was associated with the 100 block of Harkins Road in Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Brown. Booked into the Lewis County Jail for harassment and unlawful possession of a firearm was Roger D. Debaere, according to the sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 30-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine yesterday morning following contact with an officer at the 200 block of North Railroad Avenue in Centralia. It was about 8:10 a.m. when Ryan E Morehouse was arrested for an outstanding warrant and search turned up a smoking device that field-tested positive for meth, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

SLASHED TIRES

• Chehalis police were called about 10:40 p.m. on Saturday to the 300 block of Northwest State Avenue where a female discovered all four tires ion her vehicle were flat. They were punctured, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor  assault, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, anti-harassment order violation; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, runaway juvenile, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets and county roads … and more.

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Coffin discovered in Lewis County creek

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 2:16 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A casket was found wedged in a Lewis County creek over the weekend and authorities don’t yet know whether it contains a body.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said he was notified of the discovery on Sunday night and waded out to take a look at it yesterday.

“We can’t tell if it’s occupied or not,” McLeod said.

The steel gray casket is partially submerged, the foot end driven into the creek bottom, almost as if deposited there by raging floodwaters, he said.

He’s meeting, probably tomorrow, with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue coordinator to make a plan to pull it out, he said.

He has no idea how long it’s been there.

McLeod said it is a creek off the Newaukum River, on private property, but wouldn’t disclose the location.

“I don’t want people going there,” he said.

It could be that it washed out of a burial spot on private property upstream or it could be something that someone owned and was never used, he said.

McLeod said he’s been making inquiries and is unaware of any public cemetery in the area, but he is checking with the county health department which would have registered any burials on private property.

The lid is damaged, he said, and it’s even a possibility any remains it contained have escaped. He won’t know until they retrieve it, he said.

McLeod said he has learned that steel caskets sometimes have a tube attached to the exterior, inside which a funeral director would have placed identifying documents if it had been used for a burial.

It was found by somebody who likes to fish on the Newaukum, and was out walking on a neighbor’s property checking out damage from the last flood, he said.

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Chehalis fiscal analyst in trouble for tax evasion

Monday, February 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Charging documents in the case of a Lewis County business accused of stealing for failing to remit $46,000 in sales taxes suggest the company’s troubles began when it fell into default on its tax obligations.

BK Rife Enterprises LLC opened in 2002, specializing in pole barns, garages and cement work, and over time got behind on its taxes, so in September 2008, the Washington State Department of Revenue revoked BK’s certificate of tax registration, according to the documents.

Edward and Karina Rife were co-owners, but it was Karina who interacted with the state agency over the years, seeking to reinstate the certificate, according to authorities.

Karina Rife, 43, is charged with first-degree theft, second-degree perjury and engaging in business with a revoked tax registration. Her court file shows a Chehalis address.

The criminal charges were filed Jan. 29 and Karina Rife appeared before a judge on Friday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge her client is a state employee, working as a fiscal analyst for the investment board, bringing home about $3,000 per month which supports herself, her husband and her child. O’Rourke said the situation meant Karina Rife qualified for a court-appointed lawyer.

Charging papers state she was informed the process to get the certificate of tax registration reinstated included paying the back taxes due as well as posting a bond, and told more than once that operating without the certificate was a felony.

But she indicated the business was not operating, or that it had only done a few isolated jobs, according to the documents.

The state alleges she knowingly filed falsified tax returns between 2007 and 2013 to hide the company’s business activity.

Charging documents allege BK operated continuously until 2013, with most of its invoices showing sales tax charged to and collected from its customers. The information came from a tax examination after the state agency discovered building permits had been issued for contracting work done by BK.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said Karina Rife is the only one of the two owners charged with the crimes, because the state has evidence she was put on notice of the various issues.

Local attorney Jacob Clark will represent her. Her arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Local builder faces theft charges for failing to remit sales tax to state” from Wednesday February 11, 2015, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 16, 2015 at 8:00 am

Updated at 11:32 a.m.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police report an abandoned stolen vehicle was recovered about 4:45 a.m. today in connection with  location at Tilley and Walnut streets.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police took a report of a vehicle prowl at the 3000 block of Borst Avenue about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

THEFT MOSSYROCK

• Police report a load of firewood was stolen from the 200 block of State Street in Mossyrock sometime between Feb. 5 and Feb. 7. The loss is $100,  according to the Morton Police Department.

DRUGS

• A case involving a 49-year-old Longview woman is being referred to prosecutors for a possible charge of possession of methamphetamine in connection with a 9:20 p.m. police response last night to the 1200 block of Alder Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

GOLDILOCKS?

• Morton police report they were called about noon time last Wednesday on the 100 block of Aberdeen Road after the resident discovered someone had come inside their home while they were away. Nothing appeared to be missing and police have no suspects, according to the Morton Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• Jence S. Sawyer, 23, Chehalis, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11 after pleading guilty to reduced charges, related to two cases that brought him back to Lewis County last month from North Dakota where he was working. Sawyer pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for an incident on May 16, 2014 in which he  admitted he grabbed his estranged girlfriend with the intent to not let her go. Prosecutors initially alleged he tried to have sex with her and unlawfully imprisoned her at his home. The then-20-year-old woman told police she she finally crawled out a bedroom window with her baby after Sawyer refused to let her leave his residence on the 3100 block of Jackson Highway. Sawyer pleaded guilty as charged at the same time in Lewis County Superior Court last Wednesday to third-degree rape of a child in connection with an encounter the November before with a 15-year-old girl he befriended in Packwood.

• A 32-year-old Lacey woman will have an opportunity to make her pleas in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday  for allegedly stealing jewelry three years ago while she stayed at the home of a Chehalis area woman. Kelly K. Davidson was charged in May 2012 and an arrest warrant issued for second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property. The victim contacted the sheriff’s office after discovering her mother’s sapphire ring and numerous other items of value were missing, and said after she confronted Davison, Davidson denied taking anything and left the residence in the middle of the night, according to court documents. The jewelry turned up at Tumwater Pawnbrokers LLC, according to the documents. Davidson was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail on Wednesday and then on Thursday a judge allowed her to be released pending trial on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke said Davidson is unemployed and her husband’s income as a mason supports their family of five. She said she never received her summons to court in 2012, O’Rourke said.

• A 26-year-old man is charged with second-degree assault for allegedly swinging a metal pipe at the head of an acquaintance who reportedly showed up to an apartment on Lewis Street in Centralia when Malone was moving out of the home he’d shared with a woman back on Feb. 1. Charging documents state Aaron D. Malone contacted the woman, said he was removing property from their shared apartment and she needed to be there. When she showed up with two men, Malone allegedly attacked one of them with the bar, but the man was able to block the repeated blows with his hands, court documents state. Malone left before officers arrived, but was arrested last Wednesday. Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told a judge on Thursday her unemployed client lived with his father and bail was set at $15,000.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for dispute, misdemeanor theft, protection order violation, collisions on city streets … and more.

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Onalaska arrests: Big medical marijuana enterprise funded African safaris, say police

Friday, February 13, 2015 at 8:55 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police seized cars, trucks, firearms and a den full of mounted animal heads from an Onalaska couple who allegedly admitted using proceeds from an overgrown personal medicinal marijuana operation to generate approximately $136,000 per year.

When James L. Arnold and Laveta L. Arnold were contacted last week at their home on the 200 block of Griel Road, they told officers they’d been growing it for more than 15 years, but during the past five have been selling it for profit, according to the Centralia Police Department.

A search warrant was served last Thursday morning, with Centralia police, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the SWAT Team.

They turned up more than 40 pounds of marijuana processed and packaged  for sale with a street value of at least $2,000 per pound, according to police. In a shop building, they located what police described as an elaborate indoor garden with 614 plants, according to police detective Patty Finch.

The state medical marijuana law allows for up to 15 plants or 24 ounces for a qualifying patient.

According to court documents, the couple initially agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, but a detective learned James Arnold was warning people he had said he’d help apprehend, and they were arrested on Tuesday.

The Arnolds were charged in Lewis County Superior Court with manufacture of marijuana, possession with intent to to deliver and with money laundering on Wednesday. Prosecutors contend it occurred within 1000 feet of school grounds and while armed with deadly weapons.

Detective Finch says the case will also be referred to the Internal Revenue Service for investigation of possible tax fraud and to state authorities for business tax evasion.

Bail was set at $25,000 for James and at $10,000 for Laveta. Their arraignments are scheduled for next Thursday at 3 p.m.

According to police and court documents, James, 55, owns Alpha Marine Installations based at the home, is a vice president of a medical marijuana dispensary in the Olympia area called Urban Medicinals as well as another location in the Tacoma area.

Among the five vehicles seized were a 1948 Ford hot rod pickup and a 1969 Chevy Corvette, according to Finch. The 33 guns included hunting rifles, assault rifles and handguns, Finch states.

Finch says Arnold admitted to purchasing all or part of the vehicles with proceeds from his marijuana growing operation, as well as financing numerous hunting safari trips to Africa to hunt large trophy animals.

Approximately 30 mounted animal heads were also taken from the home.

Law enforcement officers collected computers, personal and banking records and growing equipment along with some personal property and cell phones that all appear to be proceeds from the growing operation, according to Finch.

Court documents state Centralia Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team and the sheriff’s office opened a money laundering operation regarding the couple in between December and January, related to the sale of marijuana. Finch said in a news release last week’s search warrant followed several months of investigation.

The couple has no previous criminal history, according to their court files.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 13, 2015 at 6:35 pm

ASSAULT

• A 17-year-old Chehalis boy was arrested after a deputy responded to W.F. West High School on Wednesday afternoon where they talked with his ex-girlfriend who said he’d taken her to his house, and assaulted her because he was angry she had been hanging out with another guy, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The teenager said she’d gotten into his truck by the football field and she asked him to take her back to the school but he didn’t, according to the sheriff’s office. She said she locked herself in the bathroom and escaped out the window, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The 17-year-old was contacted and arrested for third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment, and booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, Brown said.

THEFT FROM YARD

• Someone stole a yard cart from a fenced backyard on the 500 block of South Cedar Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Wednesday.

THEFT FROM PORCH

• Police were called to the 100 block of West Plum Street in Centralia on Wednesday afternoon regarding the theft of various items from a porch, including a candle holder, a table top fountain and a gas can.

THEFT FROM VEHICLE

• Centralia police took a report yesterday afternoon from the 200 block of East High Street regarding a stolen license plate.

VANDALISM

• An officer responded about 2 o’clock this morning to the Bank of America at the 100 block of South Pearl Street about slashed tires.

LOST AND FOUND

• Chehalis police were called about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday to Rite Aid on the 500 block of South Market Boulevard where someone had left a bag of marijuana in the store. No need to try to claim it, it was brought back to the police department for destruction, according to police.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, report of child molestation, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets … and more.

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Pinotti goes to prison, for drugs

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The 22-year-old Adna man who dodged a real bullet less than two months ago got a deal from prosecutors in his drug cases that subsequently arose, but will be going away for awhile.

Phillip A. Pinotti was initially charged with first-degree assault for allegedly trying to run down a security officer who chased him out of a Centralia courtroom and down to the next block where he was parked. The officer, who had been trying to take him into custody for a misdemeanor warrant, said he fired his gun once because he thought the escapee was trying to hit him.

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Phillip A. Pinotti, file photo

Investigations and evaluations by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the county prosecutor, an internal review board and the Centralia police chief since the events of Dec. 16 led to a very different understanding of what occurred.

Prosecutors concluded Pinotti wasn’t attempting to harm Centralia Municipal Court Security Officer Stephen Howard, so instead of an offense with a maximum penalty of life in prison, Pinotti was allowed to plead guilty to three misdemeanors and was sentenced to time served.

Howard resigned after the police chief released a report criticizing him for his actions and decision making.

But in the midst of the various reviews, and while Pinotti was out on bail, he was arrested and charged with drug crimes, one new and one from last summer.

Pinotti pleaded guilty to two felonies, both involving heroin, and he appeared before a judge yesterday to be sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court.

He faced a standard sentencing range for delivery of heroin of 12 to 20 months in prison.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher and defense attorney Don Blair both agreed to recommend to the judge that Pinotti serve 12 months and one day.

Blair told Judge Nelson Hunt his client didn’t dispute he delivered heroin, that he was a drug addict and hopefully will remain drug free.

“When he gets out, he can start getting cleaned up,” Blair said.

When asked by the judge if he wanted to make a statement on his own behalf beyond what his lawyer had shared: “No thank you, your honor,” Pinotti said. “I have nothing to add.”

Meager asked that he be given four months to be served concurrently for possession of heroin from last August.

Judge Hunt agreed with all of it, including numerous fees and court costs as well as one year of supervision after he is released.

Also yesterday morning, Zachary J. Maurer pleaded guilty in connection with the August incident.

Police had the two of them under surveillance as they went to Longview to allegedly purchase heroin and subsequently impounded their vehicle finding drugs, according to court documents.

Like Pinotti, Maurer’s charge of  possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver was lowered to a charge of possession of heroin.

Meagher said the plea deal came about in part because they couldn’t get either one to testify against the other and also because police preferred they didn’t pursue it to protect the identity of an informant.

Maurer, 25, was given a middle of the range of sentence of 18 months. Meagher said it was longer than Pinotti’s for the same offense, because Maurer had some previous convictions on his record.
•••

For background, read “Centralia court security officer who fired upon escapee quits job” from Tuesday February 10, 2015, here

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News brief: Chehalis man admits arson

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 5:59 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The retired Chehalis logger accused of a starting a fire at the house where his ex-wife and best friend were sleeping is off to prison to serve a 14 month sentence.

James R. Johnson, 65, pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree arson, second-degree burglary and first-degree malicious mischief, according to Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt also ordered Johnson to pay restitution.

Johnson was arrested in December following an investigation by police into the June 1 fire that heavily damaged the home on the 900 block of B Street in Centralia. Tamara Johnson and Clint Brown escaped without injury.

Investigators subsequently learned an accelerant had been used and there had been animosity between the parties. Authorities said a flashlight found at the scene carried DNA profile that matched Johnson’s.

When Johnson was first charged, his defense attorney said he and his ex-wife had reconciled, but Masiello said he was unable to reach her to talk with her about the sentencing.

After Johnson is released, he will be under the supervision, like probation, of the Department of Corrections for 18 months, Masiello said.
•••

For background, read “Flashlight at Centralia arson scene incriminates ex-husband” from Friday December 5, 2014, here

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News brief: Centralia getting close to choosing new chief of police

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The city of Centralia is inviting the public to come and meet the five finalists for the position of police chief.

The candidates come from as far away as Illinois and as close as the Hub City. Current police Cmdr. James Rich is among them.

The open house will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, at the Centralia train depot, according to the city’s human resources director, Candice Rydalch.

“It’s just an opportunity for people to see the people, ask questions if they want,” Rydalch said.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg is retiring in May, after 11 years as chief.

Rydalch said the nationwide search brought in 20 applicants.

The five individuals will be interviewed on Tuesday, she said.

She expects the city manager will then narrow it down to one or two of them and conduct background checks before making a final selection. An announcement could come a week or two after that, she said.

The evening gathering will take place in the conference room at the south end of the depot, at 210 Railroad Avenue.

The following are the finalists:

• Rod Baker, from Sammamish
• James Held, from Libertyville, Ill.
• Carl Nielsen, from Ripon, Calif.
• James Rich, from Centralia
• Maurice Richards, from Chicago, Ill.

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News brief: Trial for accused bicycling bank robber delayed

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 1:12 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawyer representing suspected bank robber Larry Gene Bailey told a judge today he needed to postpone his client’s trial, as he looks into a legal issue.

“There’s a legal issue, I need to basically interview the officers in the case,” defense attorney Chris Baum said today. “That would give us time to do the interviews and file the motion.”

Baum and Bailey were in Lewis County Superior Court  this morning for a scheduled brief review hearing.

Baum didn’t say what the issue was, only that he needed to speak with all the officers.

Bailey, 52, was arrested on the morning of Jan. 26, after ditching a BMX-style bicycle on the West Street overpass in Chehalis and trying to get away from a pursuing sheriff’s deputy through a barbed wire fence. Police found $36,000 cash in his backpack.

Chase Bank on South Market Boulevard had just been robbed about 45 minutes earlier.

When he was taken to Steck Medical Center to be treated for his injuries, Bailey allegedly told the nurse he had robbed a bank.

His trial was set for the week of March 23, but the court agreed today to move it to the week of May 18. Bailey has pleaded not guilty to first-degree robbery and possession of methamphetamine.

Prosecutors believe he has four previous convictions for bank robbery, in Kansas, Eastern Washington and Western Washington.
•••

For background, read “Chase bank robbery suspect facing possible third strike, pleads not guilty” from Thursday January 29, 2015, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

HIDING FUGITIVE

• A 46-year-old Centralia woman was arrested yesterday for rendering criminal assistance after she allegedly told police a wanted person was not inside a home on the 500 block of East Maple Street and it turned out he was. Officers responded about 11:30 a.m. because of some kind of dispute and saw Timothy P. McCann through the window, according to the Centralia Police Department. Diana Y. Eyle however, told an officer he had left out a back door, Officer John Panco said. Panco said officers concluded McCann never left and warned Eyle if she didn’t open the door, they would break through the door. Finally, she left them in and McCann was found inside, he said. Eyle, 46, was booked into the Lewis County Jail as was McCann for his warrant, according to police.

ROAD RAGE

• Police responded about 5:20 p.m. yesterday to the 500 block of Harrison Avenue where a driver allegedly had threatened another driver with a knife. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• Someone broke into a home on the 2900 block of Mount Vista Road in Centralia yesterday sometime between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. and stole some $3,000 worth of jewelry and other property. A list of what’s missing is still being compiled, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

VEHICLE THEFT WINLOCK

• A deputy was called to the 400 block of Jones Road in Winlock yesterday where someone stole a truck, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The white 1999 Chevrolet 1500 single-cab pickup has a license plate of B40650W, according to the sheriff’s office, and was taken between 8 a.m. on Monday and 11 a.m. yesterday. It had a diamond-plate box in the back, the sheriff’s office says.

BANK CARD ISSUE

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning regarding a report that a business credit card was used without authorization to buy a $450 gift card at Safeway. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

MISSING SS CARD

• Centralia police were contacted about 10 a.m. yesterday regarding the theft of a social security card in connection with the 500 block of East Maple Street.

DRUGS

• A 32-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop at Main Street and Washington Avenue in Centralia. Terry S. Dunivan was found to be driving with a suspended license and a backpack in his vehicle was found to contain suspected burglary tools, drug paraphernalia and meth, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment; responses for alarms, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor theft, protection order violation, collision on city street … and more.

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News brief: Local builder faces theft charges for failing to remit sales tax to state

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 1:50 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Criminal charges have been filed against the co-owner of a Lewis County business who allegedly collected and kept at least $46,000 in sales tax.

Karina J. Rife, who is also accountant for the builder BK Rife Enterprises LLC, is accused of knowingly filing falsified tax returns from 2007 to 2013 to hide the company’s business activity from the state.

The Washington State Department of Revenue said in a news release today theft charges have been filed in Lewis County on its behalf.

The Department of Revenue collects retail sales sales tax and makes sure it is properly distributed to local and state government.

Agency spokesperson Kim Schmanke states Rife admitted the business used the money to pay its bills. The state agency says BK Rife Enterprises was also doing business without a valid business registration during that period, which is a felony. The registration had been revoked for unpaid taxes.

Retail sales tax is the largest source of state revenues, supporting vital services that benefit Washington’s residents and the economy, according to Schmanke.

Businesses that collect retail sales tax do so “in trust” for the state and must remit those taxes to Revenue by the due date of the tax return for the reporting period. Failure to remit the taxes constitutes theft, Schmanke states.

Rife has been summonsed to appear before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court on Friday afternoon.

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News brief: Voters: EMS levies in Ony, Toledo should continue

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 10:11 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Voters in the Onalaska and Toledo areas appear to overwhelmingly approve continuing their levies for emergency medical services for the fire departments.

Ballots tallied in yesterday’s special election show about 81 percent of those who voted in Lewis County Fire District 1, Onalaska, checked the “yes” box. That’s 525 people in favor compared with 122 opposed, according to the preliminary results from the Lewis County Auditor’s Office Election Department.

In Lewis County Fire District 2, Toledo, nearly 78 percent, or 755 people, voted yes compared with 214 voting no.

They only need 50 percent plus one vote to pass.

Elections Supervisor Mariann Zumbuhl estimates perhaps another 100 ballots will be counted before the vote-by-mail election is finalized.

More than 5,000 people cast ballots in the special election that also included money-raising measures in four school districts.

Each of the fire districts asked to continue for six years collecting property tax money for EMS programs at the same rate as the expiring levies.

For District 1, that is 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and for District 2, it is up to 50 cents per $1,000.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 3:52 pm

DRUGS, DRUGS, DRUGS

• A 66-year-old Randle resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine yesterday following an 11:15 a.m. call to Wal-Mart in Chehalis about a possible theft. John R. Baine was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A 21-year-old Salkum woman was arrested for possession of heroin and methamphetamine as well as a warrant following contact with police about 11:15 p.m. yesterday at the 1100 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia. Katrina A. Howard was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Arrested and booked at the same time for a California felony warrant was Eden A. Lifesong, 30 of Olympia, according to police.

• A 27-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer about 7:50 p.m. yesterday at the 1100 block of West Main Street in Centralia. Caitlan C. Mason was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Chehalis police were contacted yesterday by an individual burglarized in Thurston County who discovered their stolen credit card card was used several times in Chehalis. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

THEFT FROM YARD

• Chehalis police were called about 11:40 p.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Southwest James Street by an individual who said he discovered the cargo doors open on his travel trailer and two people walking away. Missing were three marine batteries and a seven-gallon propane container, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 10:40 a.m. yesterday to take a report of theft of lawn ornaments from the 1200 block of West Walnut Street.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Someone got into the glove box of a vehicle parked yesterday at Wal-Mart in Chehalis, according to a report made to police about 1 p.m. yesterday. Missing were the registrations for the truck and a motorcycle, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

COLLISION

• Deputies think whoever was driving a 1999 Chevrolet truck found wrecked in the trees near Winlock yesterday had been heading southbound along the 300 block of  North Military Road and missed the corner. The truck is totaled, and it’s unknown who was driving it, according to the  the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, disorderly conduct, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, dispute, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street … and more.