Authorities to discuss jurisdiction in Peninsula mail theft
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We need to figure out where justice would be best served,” said Port Townsend Police Officer Luke Bogues, investigator.
The case is now under the jurisdiction of the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. It possibly could be moved to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma, Bogues has said.
In addition to the Port Townsend police, the U.S. Postal Service and the Secret Service have been involved in the investigation.
The conference call will be among all agencies involved, Bogues said Friday.
Adam Justin Lysiak, 38, is charged with 12 counts of stolen property in the second degree and one count of possession of stolen mail.
He was arrested at his Port Townsend home
Feb. 12 after police said he tried to escape by jumping off his balcony, and pleaded not guilty Feb. 22. His trial is set for April 15-18 and April 22-28. Lysiak remained in the Jefferson County jail Sunday in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Bogus said that he hopes Lysiak is incarcerated until his trial date.
“I would hate to see him make bail,” Bogues said. “Anyone who dives off of a balcony when the police comes to his door is a flight risk.”
All victims identified in the mail theft case are expected to have been notified within a week, Bogues said. Many may have already received notification by mail or by phone of their recovery of their property.
As of Friday, the department had inventoried 2,967 pieces of stolen mail belonging to 1,319 victims, Bogues said.
The largest number of victims, 696, were Kitsap County residents with 499 from Jefferson County. Of these 346 were from Port Townsend.
Estimating a city population of 10,000, Bogues said that one in 33 mail customers in town were victims of the theft.
Three victims were identified in Clallam County, all in Sequim.
The postal service is sending identified victims envelopes with information and brief report forms that ask each recipient to respond in writing. Stolen mail eventually may be returned to rightful owners, but at this time, it is considered evidence in a criminal investigation and cannot be returned, Bogues said.
Bogues and Detective Jason Greenspane did most of the cataloguing of the mail with assistance from other officers and volunteers, adding up to about 300 man hours.
At approximately $30 an hour, this adds up to $9,000, although that figure does not include overtime, Bogues said.
Lysiak eventually could be charged with more than 100 felonies, Bogues has said, since each 10 pieces of mail potentially could be the basis for two Class C felonies: theft of mail and possession of stolen mail.
“The way the statute is written, it creates a weird math problem,” said Jefferson County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chris Ashcraft.
“Each count is based on possessing 10 pieces of mail from three different people, so we need to figure out how many groups of 10 from three people do we have, and at the same time you need to figure out what's fair to the defendant.
“I literally have no clue what we are going to do.”
Police believe Lysiak took mail from mailboxes as he traveled at night between Poulsbo and Port Townsend, using “smash and grab” tactics in which everything was taken from mailboxes and set aside for later examination.
Bogues said that Lysiak stole checks and cashed them using manufactured identification, either cashing the checks outright or using them to buy merchandise.
The gains from this operation were about $15,000 over a period of a few months. Bogues said.
Police found a number of receipts for goods presumably purchased with stolen checks from merchants in Kitsap and Jefferson County.
Bogues said that most of the purchases were inexpensive although there were a few larger items such as a hydraulic jack, a safe and a used X-Box although Lysiak “did not purchase the extended warranty,” Bogues said.
Among the items Bogues said Lysiak purchased were a video, “Wisconsin Death Trip,” a bottle opener that was packaged with brass knuckles, an Albert Einstein coffee mug and a “Hello Kitty” floor mat.
Lysiak often would use the stolen checks to purchase gift cards that could be easily redeemed with no identification required, Bogues said.
Those who think they may have been victimized by a mail theft can send Bogues an e-mail at email@example.com with the case number 13-1063 in the subject line.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: March 10. 2013 6:20PM