Trio of accused identity thieves plead not guilty to host of crimes

TACOMA, Wash. -- A trio of alleged identity thieves faced a Pierce County judge on Tuesday, and all three pleaded not guilty to a host of charges.

Prosecutors say 32-year-old Zachary Tweedell, 26-year-old Alex William Howe and 32-year-old Danielle Marie White took part in a large-scale identity theft ring in Spanaway.

On Saturday, Tweedell was arrested for eluding Pierce County sheriff's deputies on a stolen motorcycle. After he was booked into jail, Tweedell made several phone calls telling people to move and sell property from a vehicle and storage units, according to prosecutors.

What Tweedell didn't realize was that the phone calls were being monitored by jail staff, who immediately dispatched deputies to the storage units Tweedell talked about.

On Sunday, deputies found and stopped the vehicle Tweedell had mentioned in a phone call. The driver admitted to moving a number of items Tweedell mentioned to Howe's home and two storage facilities, prosecutors say.

When they searched Howe's home, deputies found notebooks with identity theft profiles, stolen mail, materials to make fake checks and IDs and personal information used to forge prescription drugs. They also discovered guns, ammunition and more than 26 grams of methamphetamine.

Prosecutors say the two storage facilities also contained materials for an identity theft operation.

Both White and Howe were arrested and booked into jail.

On Tuesday, all three were charged with multiple counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of fictitious identification, unlawful possession of payment instruments, unlawful possession of personal identification devices, unlawful possession of instruments of financial fraud and unlawful possession of controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Bail was set at $150,000.