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PORT TOWNSEND – The initial sort of a thousand pounds of stolen mail is nearing completion, but the work inventorying the evidence still has only begun.
Meanwhile, the man arrested Tuesday in connection with stealing the mail and using the identities of victims remains in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Adam Justin Lysiak, 38, was charged today with 12 counts of second-degree possession of stolen property and one count of possession of stolen mail. Additional charges are anticipated.
The 12 stolen-property charges are related to a number of stolen credit cards found in Lysiak’s possession. Each charge is a Class C felony carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Additional credit cards aside from this initial dozen were recovered by police serving a search warrant on Lysiak’s apartment Tuesday. The sole count of possession of stolen mail represents just 10 pieces of mail.
But the number of charges he potentially faces is perhaps in the hundreds. Thousands of pieces of mail were recovered and every 10 mail items can be an additional Class C felony charges for theft and possession of stolen mail under state law.
Lysiak was arrested Tuesday by a team led by the U.S. Marshal’s Service following a tip received by Port Townsend Police Officer Luke Bogues. Washington law allowed Lysiak to be held in jail for 72 hours before being charged Friday morning in Jefferson County Superior Court.
The mail and credit cards, along with computers, printers, and other evidence indicating an extensive fraud and identity theft operation was collected by officers serving a search warrant on Lysiak’s apartment and associated car.
The evidence is significant and will take weeks to process. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is providing resources to assist, and federal prosecutors are being briefed on the case. It isn’t known at this time if Lysiak will face federal charges.
At this time, the recovered mail is sorted by ZIP code and street name. The next step in the investigation process is to photocopy and document each piece of stolen mail. That process is expected to take another week or more, and only then will it be possible to begin notifying victims.
Nearly all the mail is from northeast Jefferson County and northern Kitsap County, with the amount of mail about evenly split between the two areas. A few dozen pieces of mail appears to be from Pierce, King and Clallam counties.
The Port Townsend Police Department is not able to take phone calls from citizens inquiring if their mail has been found. As mail is inventoried victims will be contacted. That process could take weeks if not months.
Evidence is linking Lysiak to crimes using stolen checks at local businesses. The Police Department has obtained video surveillance showing Lysiak using the stolen checks in Port Townsend. The investigation also indicates Lysiak shopped in the Silverdale area using stolen checks, credit cards and gift cards.
Merchants’ help is requested if they have reason to believe Lysiak shopped at their business. Information such as the time of the purchase, payment method, and what goods or services were obtained is helpful. Security camera footage is also requested if available.
A photograph of Lysiak is available to news media agencies. Merchants with information are requested to call Officer Bogues or Detective Jason Greenspane at 360-385-2322 during business hours.
Last Tuesday afternoon, Officer Bogues received a tip that Lysiak, a wanted felon, was living in an apartment in the 1500 block of Sherman Street. During the course of investigating the fugitive’s location, the officer learned that Lysiak was running an extensive identity theft operation with victims across the region.
Lysiak was wanted by the Department of Corrections for escaping from community custody in Federal Way. He had originally been convicted in King County on charges of identity theft, possession of stolen property, and possession of fraudulent bank checks. He was placed in community custody last September when released from prison. He previously absconded from his DOC probation officer late last year, and was subsequently found hiding in a Port Hadlock home.
Also, Lysiak was wanted Tuesday by Kent Municipal Court for three counts of possession of stolen property, Federal Way Municipal Court for forgery and attempted theft, and Fife Municipal Court for a criminal traffic charge.
The man has a history of drug abuse and resisting arrest, according to Department of Corrections records.
It appears Lysiak resided in Port Townsend and Port Hadlock for the past few months; prior to that he lived in the Federal Way area.
The scope of Lysiak’s fraud scheme was the largest yet investigated in Port Townsend. The investigation indicates that for at about the past two months Lysiak traveled almost every night of the week stealing mail across the region. Combined with information he found online, he was able to fake identities, forge identification cards, pass bad checks, and use stolen credit cards. It is estimated that Lysiak was able to unlawfully procure tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Officers with the Port Townsend Police Department, a U.S. postal inspector, and a detective with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office have worked hundreds of man hours over the past three days processing the collected evidence. Unpaid citizen volunteers with the police department have supplemented the paid staff with dozens of additional donated hours of their own sorting mail.
This case is a large undertaking for a department with 14 commissioned staff members. The Port Townsend Safeway store in particular is appreciated for donating food to the officers and volunteers who have worked up to 20-hour shifts while assigned to this incident.
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Officers and a U.S. Postal Service inspector sifting this week through an estimated 1,000 pounds of stolen mail found passports, credit cards and checks from Jefferson and Kitsap counties and Bainbridge Island by Thursday.
The mail, allegedly stolen by Adam Justin Lysiak of Port Townsend, is being sorted by ZIP code and then placed into manila envelopes corresponding to each victim, according to Officer Luke Bogues of the Port Townsend Police Department.
Bogues said the department is not yet ready to answer specific questions from mail theft victims.
“We won't be able to notify specific victims for at least a week,” Bogues said.
“If someone has been victimized, we will contact them directly once we have sorted all the mail and determined the charges.”
Lysiak, 38, is expected to be formally charged in Jefferson County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. today.
He remained in the Jefferson County jail on a $250,000 bond Thursday after his Tuesday arrest for investigation of identity theft and possession of stolen property.
Bogues said he has recommended that the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charge Lysiak with one count of possession of stolen mail and 12 counts of possession of stolen property in the second degree.
“Keep in mind these are initial charges, and many additional charges are anticipated later,” Bogues said in an email.
Lysiak eventually could be charged with more than 100 felonies, Bogues 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.
Bogues said the mail was stolen as Lysiak drove between Poulsbo and Port Townsend as well as from Bainbridge Island.
No stolen mail has been found from Clallam County.
The mail is being sorted at the Port Townsend Police Station, which occupies the former Mountain View School.
Lysiak was arrested after officers served a warrant at his home in the 1500 block of Sherman Street.
Lysiak was slightly injured when he tried to escape by jumping off the balcony of his apartment, Bogues said, and was treated at Jefferson Healthcare hospital before he was taken to jail.
Police confiscated several fake licenses in various stages of development along with the printer and paper used to create the facsimiles, Bogues said, adding that police believe Lysiak would find a check in a piece of mail and then create an ID that matched the name and address.
“When he brought a check in, he had all the ID needed for an employee to cash it,” Bogues said.
Police found several receipts from supermarkets that included gift cards.
“He knew it wouldn't be very long before merchants figured out the checks were stolen, so he bought gift cards to restaurants and didn't have to use them right away,” Bogues said.
Bogues said the thefts were “smash and grab,” in which everything was taken from the mailboxes and set aside for later examination.
The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is aware of the case, but the Port Townsend Police Department is the lead agency, Bogues said.
Bogues said people who want to prevent mail theft can install secured mailboxes where mail is delivered through a slot into a locked box.
Another preventive measure is to check mail every day as close to the delivery time as possible, Bogues said.
Port Townsend police are requesting retailers phone 360-379-5047 if they believe Lysiak used fraudulent checks or stolen credit cards at their business.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.