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Second arrest in Bainbridge ID theft case: Loss of rent money at casino blamed

A crime spree involving the theft of a Bainbridge Island woman's wallet apparently started after a Port Orchard couple lost their rent money while gambling at the Clearwater Casino and came to Bainbridge looking for something to steal.

A 23-year-old Port Orchard man has been charged with a felony count of first-degree trafficking of stolen property for his alleged involvement in an identity theft case involving a Bainbridge Island woman.

Michael Covey Cooper was charged in Kitsap County District Court with the felony on Friday, Oct. 25, following his arrest at his home in Port Orchard by a Bainbridge police officer on Oct. 24.

Authorities claim Cooper admitted to an officer to stealing the wallet of a Bainbridge Island woman after she had left it in her unlocked car.

The first arrest in the case was made Oct. 18. Melissa Diane Johnston, 26, of Port Orchard, was charged with second-degree identity theft and possession and trafficking of stolen property in Kitsap County District Court.

Police said Johnston and Cooper stole a pink wallet from a Bainbridge Island woman's car after she left it parked outside her home on Lovell Avenue. Johnston and Cooper then allegedly used the victim's debit card to buy a 42-inch television valued at $631.16 from the Walmart in Bremerton.

The victim's stolen Chase debit card was also used for another purchase for $16.70 at an ARCO AM/PM station in Bremerton, and a $51.51 purchase at a 76 Station in Poulsbo.

The stolen television was soon sold by Johnston to a Cash America pawn store not far from the Bremerton Walmart, and Johnston also allegedly sold a $50 Pottery Barn gift card that had been in the victim's wallet to the ABC pawn store in Port Orchard for $31 on Oct. 4.

Police found Cooper after Johnston called him from a phone at the Kitsap County Jail.

Authorities said Johnston was warned that phone calls from the jail are monitored and recorded, but said in court papers that Johnston called Cooper and her sister and talked about the crimes.

Johnston called Cooper on Oct. 19, the day after her arrest, and told him, "Don't do what I'm doing and blame it all on me. Please, at least be honest in your heart."

Police said that Johnston called her sister on Oct. 21 and said that Cooper was the one who broke into the victim's vehicle and took the wallet.

Johnston allegedly told her sister "that they stole the items to pay for rent on their trailer in Port Orchard because they spent the money they had at the casino," according to court documents.

Police said Johnston called Cooper on the same day and said, "You guys better be grateful that I'm not giving you guys up."

Police arrested Cooper outside his home, and Cooper told an officer that the box for the Walmart television, and the victim's pink wallet, was inside the home.

Cooper also said the couple had lost their money at the Clearwater Casino and needed money to get home.

Cooper told an officer that Johnston used to live on Bainbridge Island and went to school there.

He also allegedly said that Johnston looked through the wallet after they had stolen it and decided what to keep, while throwing other items from the wallet out the window.

There was no money in the wallet.

Cooper said they used the victim's debit card to buy gas and cigarettes at a 76 Station in Poulsbo, and also for cigarettes at an ARCO AM/PM Station in Bremerton.

The debit card, Cooper said, was also used to buy the television at Walmart, as well as cosmetics and toiletries.

After the television and gift card was sold, Cooper allegedly said they used $50 of the money for rent and the rest was spent on drugs; Oxycodone pills.

Cooper is being held in the Kitsap County Jail; bail has been set at $10,000. He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 7.

Johnston is also still being held in the Kitsap County Jail. Her bail has also been set at $10,000. Her next court date is Nov. 5.

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