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Visitors leave their mark at Clearwater

SUQUAMISH — An alleged identity thief learned the hard way that staying at a Holiday Inn Express doesn’t always make you smarter. A group of three out-of-towners were busted at the Clearwater Casino on March 25 after surveillance videos caught the team using other people’s credit cards to buy and cash out casino gift certificates for quick money.

In addition to those already arrested, authorities are also looking for two others associated with the ring with the nicknames of “Homey” and “Chip.”

The three were driving a stolen rental car, a silver Dodge Magnum, at the time of their arrest. The same vehicle was caught on the casino’s surveillance tapes on three separate occasions, March 21, 23 and 25, where members of the ring were inside the casino.

A tribal gaming attendant contacted Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office to tip off deputies of suspicious identity theft activity caught on surveillance tapes.

Sheriff officers were dispatched around 3:30 p.m. and stopped the vehicle on Suquamish Way NE.

A meth pipe, multiple syringes and a torn baggie with white residue were found inside the vehicle along with numerous credit card numbers and bank account information.

The organized leader of the ring said he had so many credit card numbers because his acquaintances work in stores and restaurants and give him the numbers.

He previously served six years in prison for manufacturing meth and had an outstanding warrant for violating parole.

He said he was an addict, hooked on drugs for more than 20 years since his dad died working as a police officer.

According to police reports, the suspected ringleader said he knew they had been staying at the Holiday Inn Express and gambling in the casino with stolen credit cards but couldn’t remember specifics because he was high on meth all week.

Medics were called to the scene after officers realized one of the suspects consumed a large quantity of meth in an effort to hide it from police.

The officer noticed the suspect who ate the drugs “was extremely jittery while talking to me and his upper lip was shaking while he sat still listening to me,” the officer said in the report. “In addition to this he was constantly licking his lips and acted as he had a major case of cotton mouth.”

The white residue on the torn baggie tested positive for meth. Officers asked the suspect who swallowed the drugs to show them his mouth and a thick layer of yellow residue covered his tongue, police reports said. At this time he admitted to swallowing the meth in the bag but said it was a “10 sack” but could have been a “15 sack.”

Two large duffel bags were also found in the vehicle and contained an air soft pistol, pornographic movies, a Cobra radar detector and a large knife.

According to sheriff’s deputy reports, one of the suspects told police the identity theft schemes are becoming more popular.

“It’s really big,” he said. “It goes all the way to Vancouver and beyond.”

In all, $5,00 worth of gift certificates were purchased and cashed by the suspected ring. One suspect also won $1,300 and paid someone to cash his ticket because he didn’t have identification.

Bank account information came from people all over Washington and a man in Carson City, Nevada. That victim had informed police officers that there were fraudulent charges on his credit card account.

All three in the vehicle were arrested and are being held on charges ranging from possession of stolen property to possession of meth and identity theft.

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