Couple pleads not guilty in identity theft case

PORT ANGELES — A man and woman accused of breaking into vehicles at Olympic National Park trailheads and using stolen credit cards have each pleaded not guilty to identity theft and other charges.

Michael W. Pickering, 40, and Mercedes R. Lemieux, 26, both of Aberdeen, entered their pleas Friday in Clallam County Superior Court.

Pickering is charged with five counts of second-degree identity theft and three counts of second-degree possession of stolen property for crimes that allegedly occurred April 16 and April 29.

His trial was scheduled for June 24.

Lemieux is charged with four counts of second-degree identity theft and four counts of second-degree possession of stolen property for her role in the same alleged crimes.

Her trial was scheduled for July 24.

Forks police alleged that Lemieux and Pickering broke into a vehicle that was parked at the Third Beach trailhead and stole a Visa and Mastercard, which were used to purchase $1,000 in gift cards from Forks Outfitters on April 16.

Lemieux and Pickering allegedly broke into other vehicles at Graves Creek trailhead in the Quinault River valley and stole other credit cards April 28 and April 29, Forks police officer Julie Goode said.

Police received a call from Forks Outfitters saying that Pickering and Lemieux were inside the store trying to purchase another $1,000 in gift cards with stolen credit cards April 29.

They were denied because the cashier asked for identification, Goode said.

Lemieux and Pickering have previously used stolen credit cards to make purchases at Decker City Hardware in Forks, police alleged.

“Michael and Mercedes are shown in surveillance video in multiple jurisdictions to include Mason County and national parks committing car prowls and using stolen funds/credit cards to make several purchases at multiple stores throughout Washington state,” Goode said in the affidavit for probable cause.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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