Charges filed in $97,000 burglary

PORT ANGELES — Authorities say Mikhail John Frantz and William Alan Duncan were co-conspirators, scheming to steal more than $97,000 in cash, rings and rare coins from a safe in the home of Duncan’s Sequim-area employer.

Duncan took cash and items from the safe and Frantz drove the getaway vehicle, according to court documents.

Last week Frantz agreed to testify against Duncan in connection with January 2016 heist, earning a lesser sentence for himself and prompting a March 11 Clallam County Superior Court trial for Duncan.

Frantz’s alleged accomplice is charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and three counts of first-degree theft. He has a status hearing Feb. 14.

Frantz, 38, had been charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree theft and theft of a firearm, all felonies.

He pleaded guilty Thursday to lesser charges of felony first-degree possession of stolen property, gross misdemeanor first-degree rendering criminal assistance and bail jumping.

Judge Christopher Melly sentenced Frantz to 13 months in prison and 13 months in community custody under state Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative guidelines.

“Cooperation is something that is greatly appreciated” by the victims involved, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza told Melly.

Frantz’s restitution hearing is April 12.

“We’re looking at literally tens of thousands of dollars worth of restitution,” Melly said.

Melly accepted Duncan’s not-guilty plea Friday.

Duncan, 26, was well-known to the people he allegedly stole from, according to a Nov. 30 probable cause statement authored by Sheriff’s Detective Josh Ley. The statement was the same as the one Ley filed against Frantz on Dec. 23, 2016.

Duncan and a female companion periodically did yard work and housekeeping at the Pond Lane home west of Sequim-Dungeness Way, Ley said.

One of the three occupants of the home said she had known Duncan since his high school days and that her church had paid for drug addiction treatment that was not successful, according to the Ley’s statement.

“[The woman] stated that she inadvertently startled Duncan as he was bent down next to the safe on or about 1-14-16,” a week before the burglary, according to the statement.

Frantz told authorities July 6, 2016, that he and Duncan were high on methamphetamine Jan. 22, 2016, they day before the burglary was reported, when Duncan said he had stolen $5,000-$15,000 from people he had worked for, and the two “spontaneously” decided to burglarize them again.

Duncan drove him and Frantz to the victims’ home in his Toyota 4Runner, had Frantz get behind the wheel and drive around, then entered the home, according to Ley.

He allegedly took $50,000 in cash in mostly $100 bills, two women’s rings valued at $47,000, antique coins dating to the late 1800s, and a .38-caliber revolver, then called Frantz to be picked up.

The two split up the booty, according to the statement.

Frantz said that seven days later, he was robbed in Sequim at a hotel where he was living with Duncan and Duncan’s companion.

Stolen from the hotel were a ring and $600-$700 in cash he received from Duncan the night of the burglary, and $600-$800 of clothing and an $800 gold chain that he had purchased with money given him by Duncan, the statement said.

Espinoza would not comment on whether cash or items were recovered from the burglary.

Marine veteran Robert Davis, who lived at the burglarized home, said in court during his victim-impact statements that for 30 years he has taken care of 93-year-old James Tucker.

Davis’ friend and fellow veteran, a member of the Cherokee tribe, also lives at the home but is staying at a nursing home after two recent falls in which Tucker broke his back and three ribs, he said.

Tucker had taken care of Davis’ mother.

“He lost all his security to this,” said Davis, who had to wear a court-supplied hearing aide as he spoke to Melly.

Tucker was saving money, for “getting him from Washington to Idaho, where he wanted to be laid to rest,” Davis said.

The two had collected the coins together, and the cash in the safe was from an RV park Davis had owned, he said. The revolver, which belonged to Tucker’s late wife, had sentimental value, Davis said.

Davis, a Shriner, had planned to donate his mother’s rings to Shriners Hospitals for Children and already set the transfer in motion, he said.

Melly, addressing Frantz, said the burglary had a far-reaching effect.

“It doesn’t happen that often when a criminal act, whether premised on drugs or not, has the kind of end-of-life impact that your crime did,” Melly said.

“We have a 93-year-old gentleman whose decisions with regard to terms and location of his burial are impacted by your actions,” he said, calling it “quite honestly, a sad thing to hear as a judge.”

Melly gave Frantz a chance to address the court, which he did in one sentence.

“I really apologize to the victims, and beyond that ask the court to adopt the recommended sentence,” Frantz said.

Duncan and his companion, who has not been charged in the burglary but also worked at the Pond Lane residence, were immediately suspected of committing the crime, according Ley’s statement.

Duncan was arrested Feb. 19, 2016 in Fort Smith, Ark., for domestic violence crimes and the woman for obstructing justice.

Duncan implicated Frantz in the burglary.

“Duncan was bragging about how he had seen the safe unlocked or open and was getting sweaty palms over it,” Duncan’s companion said.

A female relative of Frantz’s said he had shown her a 10-carat gold ring with a diamond in the setting the day before Frantz was robbed.

That same day, he gave her $300 in cash for herself and $1,500 for her to keep for him, took her out to Asian Buffet in Port Angeles, and bought her some slippers, she said.

In February 2016, Frantz identified to authorities a backpack on Taylor Cutoff Road that contained items taken in the burglary including the revolver and mail belonging to Tucker and Davis. He and Duncan had dumped the backpack there, he said.

Charges against Duncan in connection with the burglary were dismissed Sept. 8, 2017, on the state’s motion after Frantz could not be located on a warrant for failure to appear in court, Espinoza said.

He said Frantz was re-arrested Nov. 9 in Federal Way and the charges against Duncan refiled, setting in motion last week’s court appearances.

Duncan was released Dec. 21 on his own recognizance and ordered not to have contact with Frantz or residents of the Pond Lane home.

“Now that we have Mikhail Frantz, we have him available to testify,” Espinoza said.

“He’s a material witness.”

After the hearing Thursday, Davis said he’d been upset the case against the two men has taken so long to unfold.

“As long as they get put away for a while, that’s good enough for me,” Davis said.

“I’m not out for revenge or anything.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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