A sex predator confined to Washington’s Special Commitment Center has been indicted in federal court for allegedly using the center’s pay phones to order nearly $1.5 million in merchandise that he an accomplice then tried to pay for with bad checks.
Jeffery Robinson and his alleged partner in crime, Florida resident James Anderson, were sometimes successful in obtaining high-end electronics from companies like Apple, Dell and Hewlett Packard, court records show.
But many of Robinson’s orders, including one for a $73,000 Lexus from a dealer in Bellevue, fell through when merchants discovered his checks were no good, the records show.
Robinson is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Tacoma next week on four counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, court records show.
He has been at the Special Commitment Center since 2003 after being found to be a sexually violent predator in King County, state officials said Thursday.
Anderson is scheduled to be arraigned the first week of January.
A grand jury indicted the pair last week.
Attempts to reach attorneys for the men were unsuccessful Thursday.
It’s not clear how the men met, but Anderson told investigators he’s known Robinson for more than 10 years and admitted to writing checks on his behalf, court records show.
Federal prosecutors contend the two ran the swindle for as long as nine years, giving away some of their ill-gotten gains to friends or relatives and selling some of it on eBay.
Secret Service agents began investigating Robinson in 2010 after he allegedly told a staff member at the Special Commitment Center that he had purchased $50,000 in merchandise from Apple, court records show. That information was relayed to a U.S. Postal Service inspector who passed it along to the Secret Service.
An investigation revealed that Robinson allegedly would use the pay phones at the Special Commitment Center to call various businesses and order merchandise, including computers, iPads, digital cameras and printers. He asked to have the items mailed to Anderson in Florida, records show.
Residents of the Special Commitment Center have access to telephones in common dayrooms at the McNeil Island facility, according to policy regulating phone use at the center.
“Individual phone calls are limited to 20 minutes. Residents are responsible for monitoring their phone usage,” the policy states. “Staff may intervene and/or restrict a resident’s phone access if he or she abuses telephone privileges.”
Anderson then would send a check in Robinson’s name to cover the costs, court records show. The trouble was most of those accounts were frozen, closed or contained insufficient funds to cover the costs, court records show.
Still, sometimes companies would deliver merchandise before they realized there was not money to pay them.
One transaction from December 2010 showed Robinson ordered two Macbook computers, two computer processing units, one Canon digital camera, two 27-inch monitors, two Bose speaker systems and related accessories from the Apple, court records show. The total bill: $41,902.58.
Apple sent some of that merchandise to Florida – about $3,700 worth – before it realized the check it had gotten in payment was no good, records show.
The Special Commitment Center is cooperating with federal authorities in their investigation, said Becky Denny, a legal coordinator for the facility.