Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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Shelton man wanted to blow up Wal-Mart to distract cops from three planned bank heists

April 29th, 2014 by andybinion

Source: Department of Corrections

While driving around Shelton, planning an apocalyptic scheme to blow up a Wal-Mart and gas stations, Larry Gillette, 53, allegedly held forth on his plans to use the explosions as cover for bank heists.

The other person in the car was an undercover officer working with an FBI task force, according to a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Attorneys Office.

The plan occurred to Gillette while serving time in prison for identity theft, the statement said, and he discussed it with other inmates.

After his release April 14 he made contact with the undercover officer in hopes of recruiting his help, the statement said.

Gillette had intended to cause as much carnage as possible with the bombings and robberies.

“The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, Gillette would rob three banks,” the statement said. “Gillette indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies.”

The undercover agent gave Gillette four Glock handguns; Gillette apparently was unaware the guns were modified so they would not fire.

Gillette was arrested, however, when he met again with the agent and attempted to ignite a car bomb.

“The ‘bomb’ was inoperable,” the statement said.

The agent belonged to the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes personnel from the FBI and Seattle Police. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office, the Shelton Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped on the case.

Gillette was charged in federal court with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Distracted driving crackdown resulted in lots of stops, but problem persists

April 25th, 2014 by andybinion

text and drive

The person driving on Highway 3 Thursday afternoon held the phone against the steering wheel with one hand and punched buttons with the other.

I punched the gas (ahem) and tried to get ahead of them.

Oddly enough, the person seemed more in control of their car than the person not too far behind, bobbing around the right lane, a cell phone pressed against their head.

The county waged a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving earlier this month, from April 10 to 15, pulling people over, writing tickets. But after a few minutes on the highway, it looks like the crackdown never happened.

Even with the pleas from safety advocates, the state outlawing it and cops being paid overtime to just look for people chit-chatting without a hands free device and texting, it’s still plainly obvious texting and talking is endemic.

A study from Harborview Injury and Prevention Center found one in 10 drivers were seen texting or talking on a mobile phone.

Deputy Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, compared it to smoking. The government can do a lot, but it can’t assign a cop to each driver.

Ultimately, it will be up to people to change their own behavior, he said.

The prohibition is a popular law, the recent effort to get the point across was cheered by many.

About 35 troopers, deputies and officers spent 140 overtime hours on the road, making 467 contacts with drivers suspected of not paying attention to what they were doing.

Those contacts resulted in 141 tickets for talking on mobile phones and 13 for texting or using other electronic devices, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

The lopsided results — more tickets for talking than texting — may be a result of how obvious cell phone usage is compared to texting, where the device is usually kept in a driver’s lap.

One Leadership Kitsap group is planning a project where they give away zip-lock bags to combat the problem. The hope is that people will stick their phones in the bag to serve as a reminder to leave their phones alone while driving. But that idea relies on people to change their own behavior.

“What’s it going to take? Something real startling happening to them to make them sit up and think a second time,” Wilson said.

A relative in need isn’t always a relative indeed

April 23rd, 2014 by andybinion


Tuesday afternoon, Bill was taking it easy at home when he got a call.
The voice was soft, “Like she was embarrassed,” said Bill, 83, of South Kitsap.

“Hi, grandpa,” the woman said. “I haven’t told anybody, but I’m in a little trouble.”

Bill’s ears perked up. “Oh? What’s the matter?”

“I did something that I got put in jail for.”

The woeful tale of misfortune didn’t come out all at once, “You had to drag what happened out of her.”

She was in jail, she said. She said she had gotten a ride home from a coworker the night before and the car was stopped for speeding. The officer did a search of the car and found drugs. Now she needed $5,500 to regain her liberty and put this calamity behind her before anybody found out and her good name fall into disrepute.

Bill was being scammed. It’s not a new one, but apparently it’s effective. It has been reported across the country, the state Attorney General’s Office has a warning on it. But it’s easy to see why it works so well.

It doesn’t rely on greed, to get over on somebody, or get a payoff too good to be true. It relies on somebody’s desire to help.

First thing Bill did, like most grandpas would do, is searched his mind. Who the heck is this?

He figured it was his grandson’s wife. His grandson had issues with the law, and once had found himself on the business end of a Taser. “It made a believer out of him,” Bill said.

It fit with what Bill already believed. He didn’t have $5,500 lying around, though. The granddaughter said she had voluntarily taken a “blood test,” the results of which proved she was not a drug user.

“She turned me over to a gentleman,” Bill said, then stopped. “A man, anyway, he may not be a gentleman in this case, who explained, yes, she was in jail. She had seen a judge and the judge agreed she could be released with a bond of $5,500.”

Bill says he made a mistake here. He told the man his grandson’s wife’s name, let’s call her Sally. That gave the “gentleman” something to go on.

That Sally, the “gentleman” said, was a real stand up gal. Everybody was impressed with her. And even though Bill couldn’t come up with $5,500, the “gentleman” said he would work on getting the amount lowered.

Meanwhile, the check should be sent to an address in Mississippi via FedEx.

Bill wouldn’t take credit for sniffing out the scam. His wife and son did the quick thinking, he said. They called around, called the jail, figured out it was all a bunch of hooey.

But it’s hard to blame Bill, who was ready to do what he could at a moment’s notice to help out his kin.

“They are pretty damn professional,” Bill said. “They had me convinced at first.”

For more information on the “Relative in need scam” go the Attorney General’s site.

To read another account of the scam, check out this story.

Lots of questions, few answers

April 15th, 2014 by andybinion

By coincidence, as I was writing this story about Frank McDonald, the man whose quick and painful fall became all-too-real and all-too-public, I heard this story on the radio.


It is about a young man who became addicted to child porn. He did so because he is a pedophile, meaning his sexual orientation is toward children. It’s not a short piece, but well worth the listen. Especially for people trying to figure out ways to help keep kids safe.

Cyclists reunited with their bikes, thieves jailed

April 11th, 2014 by andybinion


Happy endings for cyclists today, with three bicycle thieves being charged and bike owners reunited with their stolen bikes.


First, there was the case of the man being pistol whipped in downtown Bremerton by a drunk man apparently showing off a new BB gun to his girlfriend. The robber really wanted money, but settled for the victim’s bike.


When the cops went to his girlfriend’s apartment, after being led there by a tracking dog, the thief answered it by wheeling the bike out the door.

He was charged with first-degree robbery. That charge ain’t no joke.


In the second, a bereaved cyclist turned sleuth tracked down the two tweekers trying to slang his stolen Bad Boy on Craigslist.


They met up in Suquamish, with the victim and the cops.


The most suspicious part of this story is that the victim claimed his Cannondale hybrid was worth $1,500 because of “aftermarket parts.”

Distracted driving is a problem for everybody else, but not you, you’re fine

April 9th, 2014 by andybinion
Stock Photo

Figure A1 – Proper form for remaining undistracted: driver deploys “hand,” which distracting passenger may address

If you are reading this as you are driving down the road, pay close attention and read every word carefully. Don’t skim! It might save your life, or the life of somebody you love. Maybe take a sip of that coffee to wake yourself up, because you are going to want to remember this.

Starting Thursday, law enforcement in Kitsap County will be cracking down on distracted driving, especially those who talk on the phone and text while driving. That includes the Sheriff’s Office, the State Patrol and city police.
I said, cracking down on distracted driving. The tickets run upwards of $124.

Distracted, I said. Distracted, meaning people who are steering loaded missiles down public roads but not paying attention, especially those talking on the phone and texting. I said, talking on the phone and …

Speaking of distracted, those are cute sweat pants. Oh, and I see you have brought along a garden salad to eat while you drive. You must be very health conscious. Sure, I can pass the dressing. Would you like me to shake it up? Yes, bully idea bringing along the Bluetooth fondue pot. It plugs right into the cigarette lighter, you say? How clever.

Anyway, a 2013 study found that nearly one in 10 drivers on the road doesn’t have a clue of what they are doing. Oh, got another call? I’ll wait.
In fact, the study from UW Medicine’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center said that about half of distracted drivers were texting. I said, UW Medicine’s …

Oh my, the egg of your Egg McMuffin just escaped its muffin stronghold. That’s quite a grease stain it left on your cute sweat pants. What do you mean, “Let it go, man?” It’s just under the gas pedal, go ahead and reach down there and grab it. I’ll wait.

Anywho, distracted driving has been compared to drunken driving, as it …
I said, distracted driving … Oh, that guy searching for a song on his iPod just cut you off, give him the finger. I don’t think he noticed. Now update your Facebook status. Here’s a suggestion: “They will give licenses to anybody these days.” That will teach him.

What were we talking about again?

New judge getting sworn in, two veterans being honored

March 24th, 2014 by andybinion

This month marks the start of one judicial career and the recognition of the longevity of two others.


Newly appointed Superior Court Judge Bill Houser, who was selected by Gov. Jay Inlsee to replace Steve Dixon, will be sworn into office Monday, March 31, at 3 p.m. in the County Commissioner’s chambers.


Houser will not have much time to get acquainted with his new job before standing for election in the fall.


Then on Thursday, March 27, the Washington State Association for Justice will honor two long-serving Kitsap judges for their 20 years of service, Superior Court Judge Jay Roof and Poulsbo Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Tolman.


The event will be held at McCormick Woods Golf and Country Club in Port Orchard from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

ACLU: Six misdemeanor pot possession cases were filed in Kitsap last year

March 19th, 2014 by andybinion


The ACLU released statewide data Wednesday showing the sudden drop in misdemeanor marijuana possession charges for adults.

Although holding up to an ounce of pot, or 28 grams, is now legal, you can still be cited and prosecuted for a misdemeanor if you are found with between 28 grams and 40 grams. Those are the charges the ACLU set out to find.

And the ACLU found very few.

In 2012, the year I-502 passed, there were 5,531 misdemeanor pot charges filed statewide, according to ACLU research.

In the 2013, when the law took effect, there were 120 charges filed.

Quite the drop.

That steep decline is reflected in local numbers as well.

In 2012, 138 adults were cited for misdemeanor pot possession in Kitsap.

Last year: six.

Below you will find the statewide numbers, and below that the Kitsap numbers. All data was provided by the ACLU of Washington, which obtained its numbers by filing a records request with the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

2009 – 7964
2010 – 6743
2011 – 6879
2012 – 5531
2013 – 120

Kitsap County
2009 – 253
2010 – 141
2011 – 184
2012 – 138
2013 – 6

Four minutes ahead of the right place, right time

March 18th, 2014 by andybinion
seattle chopperc crash

Seattle Police Department

Ellen Ebert of Gig Harbor had a meeting at Seattle Center on Tuesday morning and took a shortcut through Fisher Plaza.

She thought about stopping for a cup of coffee, but then kept walking toward Broad Street.

The satellite dishes attached to the building that house the KOMO television station caught her eye.

“I never noticed that before,” she thought to herself.

She kept walking.

Up on the roof of the building a helicopter was preparing to take off.

About four minutes later, at 7:40 a.m., she heard a boom and looked out the window to see smoke billowing from where a helicopter leased by KOMO had crashed and exploded, killing two.

Ebert, whose daughter Katerina Kailey is digital sales manager at the Kitsap Sun, at first did not know it was a helicopter crash. She thought it must have been an accident at a construction site nearby.

It wasn’t until she received a call from Kailey that she heard the news. Others arrived shaken, having witnessed the aircraft explode. Her thoughts went to those who had been hurt, and those she later learned had been killed.

And also that by chance she missed being rained down on by a crashing helicopter.

The meeting went forward, but everybody was subdued.

“It was one of those things,” Ebert said.

They say that in life, success is a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“Or four minutes ahead of it,” Ebert said.


Jury duty scam hits Snohomish County

March 13th, 2014 by andybinion


A ruse that aims to wring cash from those who fear they have unwittingly skipped jury duty has popped up in Snohomish County.

A similar scam, which has made an appearance in Kitsap County — most recently earlier this month. Before that, a resident in September lost $2,000 to the scam.

What happens is somebody claiming to be from the sheriff’s office calls to say you have missed jury duty. A warrant has been issued, and to have the warrant dismissed you must pay.

Here are a few facts to keep in mind if you get a call from somebody claiming to be a sheriff’s office representative:

-The court clerk handles jury summons
-All communication about jury duty is sent in writing
-Arrest warrants are not issued for failure to appear for jury service

For information about the Kitsap County Clerk’s Office or jury administration, call 360-337-7166, Ext. 6.

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