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Three accused of buying lottery tickets with stolen credit cards

Dec 3, 2008, 8:54 am

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Washington Lottery

A trio of suspected theives are in the Cowlitz County Jail after police stopped their car Monday and found hundreds of lottery scratch tickets.

The tickets had allegedly been purchased using VISA cards with fraudulent numbers, police said.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, Kelso police officer Bebe McFall heard a dispatch report about people trying to buy hundreds of dollars' worth of scratch tickets with bad debit cards at two convenience stores. The cards were denied.

McFall said she recognized the suspects' license plate number from an earlier case of a man who tried to buy a laptop at Target with a fraudulent VISA, then left in a Ford Focus. McFall went to the Freeway Shell, 1821 South 13th Ave., after learning that Cowlitz County sheriff's deputy Brent Harris stopped the Focus. Using a surveillance photo, McFall confirmed the driver, Christopher Michael English, was the suspect in the Target case.

The Focus was a rental from Spanaway, Wash., that was stolen but not reported, McFall said.

She said English, 35, of Spanaway, had two VISA cards with the original numbers removed and replaced with phony numbers. Passenger Heather Jean Whitney, 21, of Ephrata, Wash., had two fraudulent VISA cards and two credit cards stolen from a Tacoma man in a vehicle prowl Nov. 18, McFall said. Passenger John Lawrence Portmann, 38, Tacoma, had three fraudulent VISAs, McFall said.

She said the driver's side pocket was stuffed with lottery scratch tickets, and hundreds more scratch tickets covered the floors and seats. The car also contained nitrogen oxide and paraphernalia commonly used for huffing, a marijuana pipe and a glass meth pipe, McFall said.

Other convenience stores reported visits from the trio, the report said.

English was booked on suspicion of forgery and first-degree possession of stolen property. Bail: $30,000. He also had a Department of Corrections warrant.

Whitney was booked on suspicion of identity theft and forgery. Bail: $30,000. She also had a misdemeanor warrant from Kittitas County.

Portmann was booked on suspicion of forgery. Bail: $20,000.

The report does not indicate if any of the lottery tickets were winners.

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