Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

News brief: Criminal impersonation case against Chehalis man dismissed

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors dropped a felony case they had filed against a Chehalis business owner, alleging after they searched his warehouse and his residence he’d used an alias, illegally possessed a gun and falsely declared his qualifications as a voter.

Elvis A. Matias-Lopez, 34, of Chehalis, was charged at the end of April in Lewis County Superior Court.

According to court documents, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office found Matias-Lopez was illegally in the country and eligible for deportation.

A sheriff’s detective began looking into Champion Greens located on Northwest West Street in Chehalis based on information that arose pursuant to an investigation by multiple agencies into organized criminal activity in Washington state, according to court documents.

Law enforcement conducted surveillance on on Matias-Lopez for about a year, ending last October, court documents relate.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wouldn’t say what kind of organized crime was being looked into, but yesterday said he asked a judge to dismiss the charges earlier this month because he anticipates the case will be transferred to a federal jurisdiction.

The local charges were first-degree criminal impersonation, false declaration as to qualifications as a voter and alien in possession of a firearm without an alien firearm license.

They were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be re-filed at a later date, Halstead said.
•••

For background, read “Probe into unspecified “organized crime” nets local resident eligible for deportation” from Sunday May 1, 2016, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
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•••

WOMAN IN CROSSWALK STRUCK BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER

• A 20-year-old Napavine man turned himself in after allegedly knocking down a pedestrian with his Jeep in downtown Chehalis yesterday and driving off. Officers dispatched just before 7 p.m. were told the 56-year-old Chehalis resident was in a crosswalk at Market Boulevard and Boistfort Street when it happened and she sustained scrapes on her side but declined aid, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Her clothing was damaged as well, according to police. An officer tracked down a phone number for the suspect and called him, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. Joshua D. Denton agreed to come to the Chehalis Police Department where he was arrested for hit and run, and then released pending his court date, Bailey said.

TOWED VEHICLE DISCONNECTS, COLLIDES WITH PARKED VEHICLE

• Centralia police investigated a traffic collision involving a towed vehicle and a parked vehicle. at the 400 block of East Main Street yesterday evening  The in-tow vehicle broke free from the towing vehicle and struck a parked vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department. The driver was cited for failing to secure load, according to police.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called about 12:10 p.m. yesterday to the 800 block of North Tower Avenue where someone climbed into a fenced compound and then made off with two car stereos.

WHEELS GO MISSING

• An individual called Chehalis police about 6:50 p.m. yesterday to report someone stole all four tires from their vehicle which was parked in an alley near the 500 block of Northwest Quincy Place and left it up on blocks.

FAKE MONEY SPENT

• Centralia police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Lum Road to take a report of a counterfeit $100 bill passed at a retail store.

AND FROM MORTON

• Morton police reported yesterday they are investigating a report from Thursday night at the 100 block of Division Avenue of a wallet that was stolen out of a vehicle.  There are no suspects at this time, according to the Morton Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 161 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Guilty plea accepted in Green Hill counselor-inmate sex case

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
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Erin Stiebritz, right, and her lawyer face Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The counselor accused of having sex in her office at Green Hill School with a student-inmate pleaded guilty today, as charged.

Erin Stiebritz, also known as Erin Snodgrass, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court with her lawyer this afternoon who spoke to news reporters after the hearing.

“My client made a terrible decision, she’s taken responsibility,” defense attorney Blake Kremer said. “She’s going to be paying for it for a long time.”

Stiebritz, now 37, was arrested earlier this year following an investigation conducted in 2015 for incidents that occurred during the latter half of 2014. She has been free on bond since she was charged.

Judge James Lawler today accepted her guilty plea to one count of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

Lewis County prosecutors wrote in charging papers that the then resident-counselor had an intimate relationship with an incarcerated boy who turned 18 during that time. Stiebritz had begun working there in June 2013.

Green Hill is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a medium to maximum security fenced facility in Chehalis that provides male offenders education and vocational training.

She remains free until her sentencing, which is set to take place in September after a pre-sentencing investigation is done.

The standard sentencing range for the offense is six to 12 months in jail, however, prosecutors have agreed to recommend an exceptionally shorter sentence, according to Kremer.

If the judge goes along with it, she would get 14 days in jail and 46 days converted to treatment, Kremer said. Then she would also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years, he said.

Judge Lawler today also agreed to seal portions of documents in the file he said contained personal and private information about the defendant as well as other people.

Her hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21.
•••

For background, read “Counselor-inmate sex alleged at Green Hill School” from Tuesday January 12, 2016, here

News brief: Gun-pointing landowner gets booked

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A worker walked off the job at Cowlitz Timber Trails near Salkum yesterday after encountering an angry 69-year-old man who reportedly held him at gunpoint, telling him he could shoot him and anyone else who came onto his property, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy called just before 12:20 p.m. about the incident at the 1800 block of Spencer Road was told it happened on the property line in the woods and the 42-year-old resident of Silver Creek had been using a chainsaw to clear brush.

The victim said the man was pointing the firearm at him from within five feet, ranting about a property dispute and the victim was very afraid he was going to die, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The gunman after about 30 seconds put his pistol away and the victim walked off the job, according to the sheriff’s office.

Cowlitz Timber Trails is a membership-based camping and recreation property along the Cowlitz River.

Roger K. Wilkinson, 69, Salkum, was contacted, arrested for first-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail. He is scheduled to be brought before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court to hear what, if any, charges will be filed against him.

A second Chehalis attorney hoping for outgoing Lewis County judge’s seat

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It’s a rare event when any of the three Lewis County Superior Court judge positions really open up, as in recent years the incumbents have run for reelection unopposed until they decide to retire.

So, contested races for the bench here are not common.

This year, two judges will be stepping down at the same time, and two candidates are campaigning for one of those seats.

Rural Chehalis attorney Katherine Gulmert filed to run for the position being vacated at the end of this year by Judge Richard Brosey. Chehalis lawyer Joely O’Rourke declared her candidacy for that seat in March.

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Katherine Gulmert

In December, when Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt announced he would be retiring at the end of this year, Adna attorney Andrew Toynbee announced he would be a candidate. Nobody filed to run against Toynbee.

Hunt was first elected in 2004. Judge Brosey has held his seat since July 1998. Judge James Lawler is running for a third term and is unopposed.

The Superior Court judges preside over felony and high-money civil cases on the top floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis, the county seat. The job pays $162,618 a year.

The names of the three hopefuls will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Gulmert was the last of the three to make her plans known.

The native of central California moved to rural Chehalis in 2002 after earning her law degree in 1998 at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

She’s worked both sides of the courtroom when it comes to criminal law, with the early parts of her career in various prosecutor’s offices.

In 1999, Gulmert worked at the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office. In 2000, she took a similar position with the city of Aberdeen and in 2004, with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

For two years, she was the chief criminal deputy prosecutor in Jefferson County, doubling as the county coroner, and then worked as a deputy prosecutor in Cowlitz County until 2013.

Since then, Gulmert has been in private practice, co-creating a law firm that maintained an exclusive contract with the city of Longview for indigent defense. Gulmert cites other areas in which she’s practiced, such as family law, elder law,  and veteran’s law.

She moved her practice to Chehalis this spring, taking an office in the building that holds the Community Mediation Center of Lewis County on Pacific Avenue.

Gulmert, 58, said when she saw Judge Brosey was retiring, she decided: “If I was going to be a judge, this was my time to do that.”

“I do have the experience for the position and I am hardworking,” she said. “And I will learn the areas which I haven’t yet done.”

“I am willing to put my whole self into it,” she said.

Her election information highlights giving back to the community.

“Our county deserves an experienced judge, one who, after listening carefully to both sides of a difficult case, will make her decision based on the laws as written,” she states.

When she’s not working, Gulmert volunteers her time as a board member for the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia and the Ballet Theater of Washington.

Both Toynbee and O’Rourke since they announced their candidacies have been put on the contact list to serve as substitutes on the bench in in Lewis County Superior Court handling family law cases, as pro-tem commissioner.

According to the most recent information available from the state Public Disclosure Commission, only O’Rourke has reported raising any money for her campaign, with just over $12,000 raised and spent. Her campaign shows about $4,200 of debt, money the O’Rourkes loaned the campaign.

PDC filings for Gulmert, Toynbee and Lawler each show they have raised no money.

The primary election on Aug 2 won’t include any local judicial races but does include various federal and state offices as well as contested races for two of the three Lewis County commissioner positions.

Numerous candidates have filed to run for state representative and state senator in Legislative District 19 which includes the southwest portion of Lewis County. The two representatives and senator for Legislative District 19, the rest of the county,  are on the ballot, but unopposed.

See the online Voter’s Guide for the primary election, here
•••

For background, read:

• “Judge Brosey eyes retirement, Chehalis lawyer to seek election to the court” from Wednesday March 30, 2016, here

• “Lewis County judge won’t seek election to fourth term, local lawyer to try for the bench” from Wednesday December 16, 2015, here

• Information on candidate Katherine Gulmert, here

• Information on candidate Joely O’Rourke, here

• Information on candidate Andrew Toynbee, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
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•••

VIOLENCE AT GREEN HILL

• Chehalis police were called at 4:30 p.m. yesterday to Green Hill School on Southwest 11th Street on a report a student-inmate had assaulted three staff members. The police department is waiting for more information from the juvenile institution, so details are not yet available, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BURGLARY

• A deputy was called yesterday morning to the 2000 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis about a burglary at Peace Lutheran Church. The deputy was told a pastor arrived around 2 a.m. to prepare to leave with the youth group for a trip and discovered a door to the church garage was damaged and an auditorium speaker and a bench top drill press had been removed, although they were found behind the building in the grass, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The break-in occurred sometime after 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Centralia police responded to an approximately 4:45 a.m. call today about a burglary at the 100 block of North Iron Street. Taken was cash from a wallet and an Xbox, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 1:40 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia where a victim reported while on vacation for the last week someone entered their home and stole prescription medication, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called to the 900 block of South Scheuber Road about 10:15 p.m. yesterday where an individual reported their vehicle was broke into and electronics were stolen.

• An officer was called just before 8 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia for a vehicle prowl. The victim reported that sometime over the night unknown persons entered her vehicle and stole some tools, according to the Centralia Police Department.

LOCKER ROOM THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 5:15 p.m. yesterday to the pool at the 400 block of Southwest Parkland Drive where they were told a male had left his wallet in his pants in the locker room and it disappeared.

FUNNY MONEY

• Centralia police were called about 3:50 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Belmont Avenue to take a report of a female attempting to pass a counterfeit $50 bill at a business.

LOST AND FOUND

• A worker found money in a parking lot off South Market Boulevard in Chehalis and turned it in to the police department about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It was discovered in the area around the 1300 block and the 1500 block, according to police. If the person who lost it can describe it, they should be able to get it back, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, trespassing, probation violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 187 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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•••

FIGHT, FIGHT

• Police responding about 12:05 a.m. today to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia arrested three for fighting in public. They are: Robert Day, 38, of Onalaska; Trevor Johnson, 30, of Chehalis, and Edward Arredondo, 34, of Chehalis, according to the Centralia Police Department. Earlier, around 6:15 p.m., an arrest of similar nature was made at the 600 block of Warren Street, according to police. In that case, James Lowther, 38, of Centralia, was arrested and then also released.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police called about 9:45 a.m. yesterday to the 500 block of South Pearl Street took a report that an unknown person entered a residence and stole a backpack.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A pickup truck stolen in Centralia turned up about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday parked on 11th Street in Chehalis. The owner came and retrieved it, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning that sometime during the last two weeks, someone stole a 2007 Suzuki 250 dirt bike from an unlocked garage on the 500 block of Avery Road West south of Chehalis. The bike is valued at $4,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

PROWL, PROWL, PROWL

• Chehalis police were called just before noon yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue where a truck in a driveway had been prowled. Among the missing items are a Sears brand tool box containing sockets and wrenches, two Nintendo games and two portable television screens, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Just after 10 a.m. yesterday, police were called to the 1400 block of Southwest Kelly Avenue in Chehalis following the discovery of a vehicle prowl in which an Occidental tool bag containing carpentry tools was stolen from a pickup truck parked on the street, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• An officer responded to an approximately 9 a.m. call yesterday following the discovery of a vehicle prowl on the 1400 block of Southwest Johnson Avenue in Chehalis in which more than $1,400 worth of tools were stolen. The truck had been parked on the street, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Among the missing property is a plumbing wrench, a yellow and black DeWalt sawzall, a vacuum and green and black Ryobi tools such as a drill, a finish nailer, a staple gun, batteries and charger, according to police.

• Chehalis police were called about 6 p.m. on Saturday to the 600 block of Northwest Gertrude Street in Chehalis where someone had broken into a Jeep and stole keys on a ring, a blue child’s backpack with two fishing poles and a folder containing personal information, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police took a report late Friday afternoon from the 200 block of Southwest John Street that someone had stolen a set of golf clubs from a vehicle. The bag is green and black, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about a vehicle prowl on the 400 block of Northeast Adams Avenue at 11:45 a.m. on Friday. Someone broke a window of the car parked on the street and took some cash, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

UNDERAGE DRINKING

• Nine young people were arrested and then released for minor in possession and/or consumption of alcohol after deputies responded about 11:25 p.m. on Friday to the 400 block of Chilvers Road outside Chehalis for what was described as a large party. A deputy was told people were walking in the roads and cars were in an out of the property, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Portable breath tests were administered in the case involving two 17-year-olds, four 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and one 20-year-old. All are from Chehalis and all were males except for the 17-year-old girl, according to the sheriff’s office.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 77-year-old Chehalis resident was ticketed for speeding when his Dodge pickup truck rear ended a Kia Sorento, and his 22-foot boat left the trailer he was pulling coming to rest against a telephone pole on Saturday morning in Mason County. Troopers called at 9:19 a.m. to Highway 101 north of Shelton noted nobody was injured but both vehicles were damaged. Robert G. Johnson, 77, from Chehalis, was traveling at speeds too fast for conditions when he came up on the sport utility vehicle which was stopped to make a turn onto Hamma Hamma Road, according to the Washington State Patrol.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drugs, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, no-contact order violation, domestic malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault,  driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more, among 305 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 48-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Teen lost during hike spends night outdoors

Monday, July 25th, 2016
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A picture taken just before he went missing on Sunday was shared on social media.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A teenager who got separated from his father while hiking yesterday afternoon south of White Pass was located in good shape this morning.

The White Pass Ski Resort began tweeting just before 1 a .m. today they needed volunteers first thing this morning to help search for 15-year-old Robby Kershaw.

They tweeted he was found just before 10 a.m. and thanked the hundreds of volunteers who responded.

They had been hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail by Hogback Mountain near the Lewis-Yakima county border.

The boy was in good condition when he was found, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.

News brief: Victim found injured, alone at scene of two-vehicle collision in Winlock

Monday, July 25th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Law enforcement is looking for the driver who walked away from a head-on collision in Winlock early yesterday morning after telling an injured woman in the other vehicle he would call for help.

A passing citizen who came upon the wreck on the 200 block of North Military Road called 911 about 5:30 a.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The 50-year-old Winlock woman at the scene sustained serious injuries including broken bones in her face and back, according to the sheriff’s office. She was airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver and then transferred to a Portland hospital for further treatment, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Her pickup truck and the other car were both totaled, Brown said.

The victim said that before the man left, he tried once to open her door, asked her if she could move and said he would call police or an ambulance, according to Brown.

Deputies searched but could not locate him, Brown said.

His 2007 Acura four-door, with Utah license plates, was impounded to be checked for finger prints and DNA evidence, Brown said.

He is described as a white male with dark hair and around 5-feet 9-inches tall. Brown said he could have injuries to his face or arm.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
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Members of the Chehalis Fire Department tackle multiple grass fires along the freeway. / Courtesy photo

FOUR DEPARTMENTS TO PUT OUT FREEWAY GRASS FIRES

• Chehalis firefighters began getting calls about 4:40 p.m. yesterday of numerous fires along the southbound shoulder of Interstate 5. Firefighter Braxton Traylor said they stretched from about milepost 79 down to milepost 72. Already the closure of the Chamber of Commerce Way overpass changed their response route, according to Traylor. They couldn’t enter the freeway at the 79 interchange, so they headed out Main Street and decided to go south from there, asking Riverside Fire Authority to cover the northern portion, he said. Personnel from Lewis County Fire District 6 and 5 also responded as well to extinguish the burning grass and brush, according to Traylor. The Chehalis Fire Department understood the fires may have been ignited by a motorist dragging a chain or something similar, but Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Will Finn tweeted ” … Tire from semi the cause.” just before 5 p.m. Traylor said it took a couple of hours to get it all put out.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 1:30 a.m. to the 300 block of West Summa Street when the owner of a vehicle came outside as their vehicle was being driven away. It had been left running, according to the Centralia Police Department. However, it was later found, undamaged, in Chehalis, according to police.

ARREST AT FULLERS

• A 26-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for second-degree burglary at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia at about 7:30 p.m. yesterday. Lucas D. Bryan was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called just before 8 a.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl at the 100 block of South Diamond Street. Somebody rummaged through the unlocked vehicle but nothing appeared to be missing, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRESPASSING

• Centralia police responding to an approximately 10:25 a.m. call yesterday to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue ended up arresting a 45-year-old Chehalis man for trespassing and for obstructing a law enforcement officer. Joshua L. Harris was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, malicious mischief, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances … and more, among 170 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Grass and brush burns next to Interstate 5 in Chehalis. / Courtesy photo

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
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•••

OUT-OF-CONTROL AT ROCK PIT

• A 24-year-old Centralia resident who smelled of intoxicants was finally detained after he allegedly tried to steal four vehicles early yesterday morning, was found at Sterling Breen Crushing at the 800 block of state Route 507, and yelled at deputies to get out of his way as he tried to back up a truck, but could only spin its tires. Deputies responded about 4:30 a.m. to a 911 hang up call and located a suspect at the rock pit, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said he ignored repeated commands to put show his hands and exit the vehicle. Emmanuel Martinez allegedly had also driven a dump truck over a rock pile and nearly into the water, causing an estimated $2,000 damage, Brown said. Two knives were retrieved from the seat beside him, she said. He was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for vehicle theft, burglary and malicious mischief, she said. Brown said he had also poured gas and oil on vehicles, walls and the floor in his father’s garage.

ELBOW TO FACE

• Chehalis police were called about 11:30 p.m. yesterday to Green Hill School to take a report of a student-inmate allegedly assaulting a staff member. The incident between the 17-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man involved an elbow to the face, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case is being referred to prosecutors for a possible charge of custodial assault, according to police.

ELDERLY RESIDENT SCAMMED

• A man in his 80s reported to Centralia police yesterday he was contacted by phone and told he’d won prize money, and wired $500 to claim it.

SHED BURGLARY

• Police were called to the 100 block of East Carson Street in Centralia yesterday morning where they were told that sometime during the previous week, someone stole a pressure washer and a trimmer from their shed.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police called at 1:30 p.m. yesterday about an abandoned vehicle at the 200 block of Southwest Sixth Street found it had been stolen. The owner of the Honda Civic came and got it, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Sometime between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. yesterday, a black 1995 Honda Accord vanished from where it had been parked at the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 south of Chehalis. Its owner said she had left the keys on a spare tire next to the car, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The keys, the car and the tire were all missing, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 2002 Infinity with a license plate reading AUM 867 was reported stolen at about 7:15 a.m. yesterday from the 500 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia.

VEHICLE PROWL

• An officer was called about 2:40 p.m. yesterday about a car prowl at the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Someone took a wallet from the unlocked vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of Northwest State Avenue regarding the discovery of damage to a new vehicle, when someone attempted to remove a “lock box,” according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 57-year-old Chehalis woman was uninjured but her 2011 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle sustained major front end damage when she struck a deer on the 2200 block of Pe Ell-McDonald Road at about 5 o’clock yesterday morning.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, third-degree theft, hit and run, civil issue, suspicious circumstances, barking dog, collision on city street, report of inappropriate touching that occurred more than five years ago  … and more, among 157 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

•••

Correction: The item involving Green Hill School has been updated to correctly reflect the possible charge.

Chehalis fight: Felony trial ends with misdemeanor convictions

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A trial for two men accused of second-degree assault for a fight between distant relatives in Chehalis ended with both found guilty of two counts of fourth-degree assault.

The offenses are gross misdemeanors instead of felonies.

Edu Adsilva Leal, 23, of Chehalis and Gustavo Casmiro-Gomez, 31, were charged in February for the incident that took place the previous September at the 1300 block of Southwest Mills Avenue in Chehalis.

Prosecutors alleged one of them punched his cousin in the head and when the cousin’s father tried to intervene, the other knocked him to the ground, causing a head injury.

Casmiro-Gomez’s lawyer, Chris Baum, said there was yelling, an altercation and then testimony diverged as to what followed.

The jury deliberated in Lewis County Superior Court on Monday after the trial that began the week before.

The two defendants appeared in court this afternoon, out of custody, to set a date for their sentencing. The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. on August 3.
•••

For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FROM THE COURTHOUSE” from Saturday February 27, 2016, here

News brief: Green Hill counselor-inmate sex case will end without a trial

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A counselor who pleaded not guilty to custodial sexual misconduct in connection with a student-inmate at Green Hill School has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Erin Stiebritz, who also goes by the last name of Snodgrass, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon to set a date to change her plea.

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Courtesy photo DSHS

The now-37-year-old  is expected back in court next Wednesday.

Stiebritz was arrested in January, following an investigation conducted by the Washington State Patrol during 2015.

Prosecutors alleged that the then resident-counselor had an intimate relationship with an incarcerated boy who turned 18 during that time, including engaging in sex in her office, during several months in 2014.

She has been free on an unsecured bond.

Green Hill is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a medium to maximum security fenced facility in Chehalis that provides older, male offenders education and vocational training.
•••

For background, read “Juvenile administrators speak out on arrest of Green Hill counselor” from Thursday January 14, 2016, here

News brief: Local Crime Stoppers program to be dissolved

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Board members of Crime Stoppers of Lewis County have voted unanimously to cease operations.

While the program has seen a lot of success during its 21 years of existence, the large downturn in the number of tips coming in and the few cases they now help law enforcement solve, shows times have changed, the board said in a news release this afternoon. Board insurance takes up more and more of the budget coming from fundraisers, they said.

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•••

“The board would like to thank all those individuals, social organizations and businesses that supported Crime Stoppers through the years,” the news release stated. “Without this generous support, Crime Stoppers would not have been successful.”

Over time, tips have led to 440 cleared cases, 356 arrests and a total dollar recovery amounting to $3,296,653, according to the board.

It has paid out rewards totaling $45,975.

Many people who have reported tips have not claimed their rewards. Any outstanding rewards must be claimed by September 20, 2016.

To inquire about collecting a reward call 360- 740-2726.

Crime Stoppers is hoping to find a group to take over its child identification program, where they make a kit for parents consisting of fingerprint, photo and DNA. To inquire about that, call 360- 740-2726.

The student Crime Stoppers programs in Chehalis and Adna school districts will also end.

The board made note that social media allows for other avenues of reporting crime. They encourage schools to work with local law enforcement to adopt a new program to replace Student Crime Stoppers.

News brief: Glenoma home catches fire

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Firefighters were called to the 100 block of Kosmos Road in Glenoma yesterday when a fire broke out in a ceiling area.

Fire Investigator Jay Birley said one of the residents had just gotten home from town and was on the front porch when a smoke alarm alerted her.

“So she runs in there to see what’s going on and notices the fan, in the bathroom, had fallen out onto the floor and was on fire,” Birley said.

She woke up her boyfriend and got everyone out of the house, he said.

Lewis County Fire District 18, assisted by Fire Districts 3, 4 and 14, responded to the approximately 9:30 a.m. call.

Crews got there quickly, knocked it down and contained the damage to the attic, he said.

“They did an outstanding job,” he said.

The single-story older-style modular home is currently not habitable, but the family’s belongings can be saved, he said.

Birley is investigating and said this morning the fan is suspect.

It had been left on and running for a couple of hours, and they are not meant to be used for long durations, he said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
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•••

Updated at 3:46 p.m.

MAN FINDS STRANGER IN HOUSE ON SEMINARY HILL

• A 29-year-old woman with a gun was arrested after a K-9 track located her talking with a neighbor on a front porch following an interrupted burglary on the 100 block of North Green Street in Centralia yesterday. Police were called at 12:30 p.m. after a resident arrived home to find a female he didn’t know inside his house, but she fled, according to the Centralia Police Department. A police dog with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded and found “articles” allegedly dropped by the intruder and subsequently came upon the suspect, according to the sheriff’s office. A Glock with a loaded magazine was found in her backpack, Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey said. Candice R. Baughman, of Rochester, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree burglary, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine, according to Kimsey.

POLICE: UNRULY DRUNK

• A 27-year-old Chehalis man was arrested yesterday evening after police were called to Southeast Dobson Court for a complaint that a person was pounding on other people’s doors. Police responding to the approximately 7:30 p.m. 911 call found a subject who was intoxicated and allegedly threatened bodily harm to the officer, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Michael K. Franz was arrested for harassment to a criminal justice employee and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

THEFT

• An officer was called late yesterday afternoon to the 200 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis where an individual said a parcel containing medication had been delivered but was not actually received.

• Chehalis police were called just after 3 p.m. yesterday for an overnight vehicle prowl on Southwest William Avenue. A handbag with wallet and a shopping bag were stolen, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called at 9:20 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Harrison Avenue about the theft of money sometime during the night.

• Chehalis police were called to the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street just before 8 a.m. yesterday for a vehicle prowl that occurred during the night. Missing were two backpacks and a set of head phones, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 68-year-old Curtis man may have fallen asleep before he drove off the side of the 600 block of Boistfort Road and struck a power pole yesterday afternoon, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called to the scene about 4:10 p.m. found the 2006 Nissan pickup sustained major damage but the driver was uninjured, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, shoplifting, suicidal person, suspicious circumstances, barking dog, collision on city street … and more, among 153 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Ex-manager of downtown Chehalis retailer sought for allegedly stealing money

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
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•••

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County judge issued an arrest warrant yesterday for the former manger of a Chehalis furniture store, accused of pocketing money from cash sales and concocting phony invoices.

Misti M. Moore was expected to make her first appearance yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, as a summons had been issued when a charge of first-degree theft was filed last month.

The summons was sent to her address on Littlerock Road in Olympia, but was returned to the prosecutor’s office, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meager said.

“We don’t know where she is,” Meager told the judge.

Moore, 45, had quit her job from Furniture World on North Market Boulevard with no explanation shortly before the business’s owner contacted Chehalis police in May of last year, according to court documents.

The owner Emina Jusupovic told an officer the issue came to her attention when a customer came in to ask about getting his furniture repaired and the items on his receipt did not match the entries in the company computer, Meagher wrote in charging documents.

A police detective was shown several instances suggesting similar cash transactions when he met with the new manager in July of last year.

One customer, for example, had a receipt showing he spent $2,000 on couches and love seats, but the store invoice showed a purchase of a table lamp for $43, according to Meagher.

That customer said he got a very good deal after he asked about a cash discount and a veteran’s discount and that one of the items he took home was advertised at $1,600 or $1,700, Meagher wrote.

Charging documents don’t indicate why it took more than a year to investigate and/or file criminal charges.

Meagher wrote in charging documents he currently has documentation of $5,880 missing, but the new manager found as much as $20,000 in discrepancies.

Moore has six prior felony convictions for embezzlement crimes committed in Virginia against another furniture store, according to Meagher.

Judge Nelson Hunt agreed to issue a $5,000 arrest warrant.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
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•••

Updated at 3:16 p.m.

PRUNO CONFISCATED

• A 20-year-old inmate is facing a possible criminal charge for allegedly attempting to make jailhouse wine yesterday. A deputy responded over to the Lewis County Jail last night where a sergeant handed over three bottles of suspected “Pruno,” according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Pruno is a concoction inmates sometimes create using leftover food and a fermentation process, according to the sheriff’s office. In this case, the suspect said he used an orange, an apple and some bread that morning, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Samples are being sent to the Washington State Crime Lab and if alcohol is detected, he will be charged with possession of a controlled substance by an inmate, Brown said.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• A barn on the 3600 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia was broken into sometime between Sunday and yesterday, with a variety of property stolen including a small Frigidaire, a 20-gallon hot water heater, a cordless drill and a 50-foot hose, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Also missing is the barn key and a tool box, according to the sheriff’s office.

ANTIQUES LIFTED FROM PARKED CAR

• Centralia police responded to the discovery of a vehicle prowl at 7:45 a.m. yesterday at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue. An officer was told that sometime during the night, someone broke in and stole a bag of jewelry, two Rolex watches and other items the victim was planning to sell at the antique festival, according to the Centralia Police Department.

OTHER THEFT

• An officer was called to a business at the 1500 block of South Gold Street in Centralia yesterday where they took a report of the theft of mail. This case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 3:15 p.m. yesterday when a business on Northwest Louisiana Avenue reported a tall, dark-skinned male with long dark hair stole their tip jar from the counter.

• Centralia police were called about 1:30 p.m. yesterday to the 900 block of South Scheuber Road where the victim reported the theft of $40, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A deputy was called about 5 p.m. yesterday for a single-vehicle collision in East Lewis County about five miles up Forest Service Road 25, in which a passenger suffered an apparent broken arm. The driver, a 59-year-old man from Castle Rock, said he had no recollection of what happened before their 1985 Toyota pickup ran into logs and trees, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His 63-year-old passenger, also from Castle Rock, said she thought it was a mechanical issue as when the truck began pulling left and he tried to counter-steer, there was no response. They had worked on a steering issue prior to their trip, according to the sherif’s office. The truck was totaled, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A 46-year-old Packwood man escaped serious injury when he swerved to miss elk and ran into a utility pole yesterday evening along the 200 block of Cannon Road in Packwood. A deputy responding about 4:35 p.m. found the 2009 Dodge Ram was totaled, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Chehalis police were called about 11:20 a.m. yesterday when a red car in a parking lot on Southwest Pacific Avenue struck a pedestrian and drove off. An officer was told no aid was needed.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suicidal person, suspicious circumstances, disorderly persons, barking dog, gas drive-off, receipt of fraudulent check … and more, among 150 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: Onalaska man turns up safe in Oregon

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The missing Onalaska man was located safe at about 8 a.m. this morning, hitchhiking in Dalles, Oregon.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office yesterday asked for the public’s help in finding 72-year-old Sean McTimmons, who had walked away from home the morning before after an argument.

Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning McTimmons was contacted by an Oregon state trooper. He is safe and gone on his own volition, according to Brown.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Law looking for missing Ony resident” from Tuesday July 19, 2016, here

Contamination of Olequa Creek was costly consequence of August 2015 fire

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The owners of a Winlock warehouse that went up in flames last summer and their insurance company have already forked out more than $200,000 for the contractors who conducted cleanup and demolition, and now the state Department of Ecology has sent a bill for its response.

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August 18, 2015

The 15,000 square-foot building held pallets of grocery products, including 1,130 gallons of vegetable oils. Runoff from the fire’s extinguishment spilled into the nearby Olequa Creek, killing as many as 100,000 fish over a stretch of three and a half miles.

Ecology and other agencies oversaw the response for more than two weeks after the August 18 fire. After any oil spill response, Ecology is required by state law to follow up with enforcement, including reimbursement for state expenses, the state agency said in a news release.

DOE has directed Olympic Trading Company to reimburse the state for its costs of $30,887.

The work at Northwest Kerron Street, just south of Laurel Street, included the collection and removal of  65,500 gallons of contaminated water and 25 cubic yards of oiled sorbents and contaminated soil, according to DOE.

The owners are Patricia and Michael Parish, who reside in the Winlock area, Fire Investigator Samuel Patrick said at the time.

Investigators have not found a cause for the fire.

Early on, officials reported finding all species and sizes of fish, insects and other living organisms were killed for five miles downstream, but revised the distance. DOE indicates some endangered species perished. Olequa Creek is a tributary to the Cowlitz River.

The state agency also issued Olympic Trading Company a $1,000 fine. The company has 30 days to appeal the penalty and cost reimbursement.

In its news release, DOE noted  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a separate assessment for the value of damages to the environment.
•••

For background, read “Authorities: Stay out of Winlock creek, avoid contaminated runoff from warehouse fire” from Friday August 21, 2015, here

News brief: Two truck wreck in I-5 construction zone

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Updated at 8:35 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two people were injured when a Freightliner van slowed for traffic on northbound Interstate 5 in Centralia last night and a semi truck unable to stop in time slammed into its back end.

Troopers called just before midnight to the area near milepost 81 report the driver of the 2015 Freightliner tractor-trailer combination, Satwinder Singh, 30, from Everett, was not injured.

It happened in an area where one lane was closed for construction.

But the occupants of the van, both from California, were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol. They are the driver, Ruben Martinez-Puente, 31, from Hollister; and Kelly M. Reed, 46, from Sebastopol, according to the state patrol.

They were able to pull over and neither truck rolled or lost any of its load, fortunately, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said the occupants of the California van said their cargo was “10,000 government rats and mice.”

Curfman didn’t see the rodents, but was told they’d be fine while the pair went to the hospital, as they had food and water.

“Beyond that, I have no idea,” Curfman said as to where the animals were headed or why. “I’m just glad it wasn’t wide open and rodents running everywhere.”

The damage to the vehicles was described by the state patrol only as “reportable.” Both were towed.

The investigating trooper blames the wreck on inattention and following too closely.

Prosecutors: Thousands of dollars more missing from Mossyrock accounts

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Mossyrock city clerk now stands accused not only of stealing roughly $7,700 from the city, but of making large monthly withdrawals – from roughly $2,200 to as much as $4,833 – from the municipality’s accounts going back to October.

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Doneia A. Santiago

Doneia A. Santiago, 53, pleaded not guilty to first-degree theft earlier this month, but already the mayor the police chief and prosecutors were digging up new information by looking into transactions at Key Bank, where the city did business until moving to Security State Bank.

Santiago was arrested on June 26 and was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

The alleged thefts came to light when Santiago approached the mayor to tell him her husband inadvertently used the city credit card to make an approximately $3,600 payment to Central Mortgage, according to court documents.

The initial charges also made mention of ATM withdrawals the mayor said were not authorized and use of Mossyrock’s bank card to purchase fuel.

In a supplemental affidavit filed in Lewis County Superior Court, prosecutors write that on the day Santiago was charged, Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar was notified Santiago had issued herself a payroll check on June 20, which was not a regular payroll date.

Morningstar advised the mayor to look over the Key Bank accounts, where they found a number of transactions made to Central Mortgage, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello wrote.

The total comes to more than $37,000.

Information from the Lewis County Assessors Office shows Santiago co-owns nearly 10 acres and a three-bedroom house outside of Mossyrock assessed at more than $258,000.

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office filed the supplemental affidavit and an amended information on July 8.

The charge of first-degree theft was left out, but in its place are nine charges of second-degree theft and nine charges of  first-degree identity theft.

Santiago has retained Centralia attorney Don Blair. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.
•••

For background, read “Thousands of dollars in unauthorized transactions attributed to Mossy city clerk” from Monday June 27, 2016, here

News brief: Law looking for missing Ony resident

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
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Anyone who has seen Sean McTimmons or has any information, is asked to call the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 748-9286.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating an Onalaska area man who hasn’t been seen since he walked away from home yesterday morning after an argument.

Sean McTimmons, 72, left his cell phone and house keys behind, but did have his wallet which held a debit card, according to the sheriff’s office.

He has not contacted friends or family in the area, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this afternoon in a news release.  He is known to frequent local truck stops in the area, especially Loves Travel Stop in Napavine, according to Brown.

He lives on the 100 block of McCann Road, west of Onalaska, with his wife and took off at 8:10 a.m. yesterday, according to Brown.

If anyone has seen McTimmons or has any information, they are asked to call the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 748-9286.

He is described as a white male, 6-feet 3-inches tall, weighing 220 pounds with white hair, and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a trucker style baseball cap, a faded tan Carhart vest, a red-maroon plaid shirt, blue jeans, and dark brown boots.