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Spokane/East. Wash/North Idaho News Releases for Thu. Jun. 8 - 9:10 pm
Thu. 06/08/23
BPA names Marcus Harris permanent chief financial officer (Photo)
Bonneville Power Administration - 06/08/23 2:08 PM
BPA CFO Marcus Harris
BPA CFO Marcus Harris

PR 07 23                                                                    

                                                                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, June 8, 2023
                                                                                  CONTACT: Summer Goodwin, BPA, 503-230-3158
                                                                                                                                            or 503-230-5131

BPA names Marcus Harris permanent chief financial officer

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration has named Marcus Harris as executive vice president and chief financial officer starting June 18 on a permanent basis. Harris served in this role on an acting basis since 2021. As CFO, Harris oversees the setting of BPA’s approximate $1 billion annual capital budget and nearly $4 billion expense budget, as well as the agency’s accounting, debt management, cash management and investor activities.

“Marcus has played a crucial role in strengthening BPA’s financial health, most notably through his leadership in the development of the 2018 and 2022 financial plans,” said Administrator and CEO John Hairston. “His financial prowess will continue to be an asset as we work toward ambitious cost-management and financial resilience objectives.”

Harris previously served as deputy chief operating officer, leading critical cross-agency initiatives and aligning the many agency organizations under the authority of the chief operating officer. In his prior role as budget officer and manager of Financial Planning and Analysis, he led the development of capital and expense spending levels for Integrated Program Reviews for both BP20 and BP-22 rate cases.

“I remain committed to working across Bonneville to execute on our financial plan,” said Harris. “Our strong partnerships with customers and stakeholders helped us hone in on our financial objectives and has set us on a solid course to remain a competitive power and transmission provider over the long term.”

Harris joined BPA in 2009 as a financial analyst. He has a bachelor’s degree from Vanguard University, a master’s in business administration, summa cum laude, from Willamette University, and a PhD in systems science from Portland State University.


About BPA

The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer in the U.S. Department of Energy that sells wholesale, carbon-free hydropower from 31 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. It also markets the output of the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA delivers this power to more than 140 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage power lines and 261 substations, and provides transmission service to more than 300 customers. In all, BPA provides nearly a third of the power generated in the Northwest. To mitigate the impacts of the federal dams, BPA implements a fish and wildlife program that includes working with its partners to make the federal dams safer for fish passage. It also pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain safe, affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest. www.bpa.gov


Attached Media Files: BPA CFO Marcus Harris

Wed. 06/07/23
Spokane Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 06/07/23 11:01 PM

Spokane, WA – Earlier today, Senior United States District Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen sentenced Jaiden Gyvan Petersen, age 24, of Spokane, Washington, to 240 months in federal prison today for two counts of Production of Child Pornography (240 months on each count to be served concurrently). At the conclusion of his prison term, Petersen will spend the rest of his life on federal supervision. Senior Judge Nielsen ordered restitution to the victims of Petersen’s offenses in the amount of $23,400. Petersen had entered a guilty plea to two counts of Production of Child Pornography on December 8, 2022.

This case stemmed from a CyberTip or a notice to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reporting the online exploitation of children. The FBI received the CyberTip, which originated from Snapchat, indicating child pornography had traveled across Snapchat’s servers from Petersen’s Snapchat account.

Petersen was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted the Snapchat account in question was his.  He further admitted he had been receiving and distributing child pornography for years. 

Law enforcement obtained a federal search warrant and searched serval of Petersen’s electronic devices.  All of these devices were reviewed forensically.  During the review, the FBI found at total of over 1,000 child pornography images and 10 child pornography videos.  Three images were of a local production victim — i.e., a victim of a separate defendant also prosecuted in the Eastern District of Washington — that were traded directly with Petersen.  Other illicit images in Petersen’s possession included urination and child bondage. 

During the investigation, the FBI also located child pornography images Petersen had produced himself. Specifically, Petersen produced child pornography with a six-year old child to whom he had access when Petersen was himself was 17-years old.  Petersen later distributed these images after he became an adult.  Because Petersen produced those images when he was 17 years old, the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney is prosecuting the case pertaining to this first victim.   

As an adult, Petersen produced additional child pornography of two other children.  The children were 13 years and 14 years old respectively when the production occurred. The older child was a person Petersen knew personally, and the younger child was a person Petersen met on Xbox Live. Petersen asked both victims to produce very specific images of child pornography and to send these materials to him, often through Snapchat. 

At today’s sentencing, Senior Judge Nielsen noted the seriousness of the misconduct and stated, “Your conduct will have an adverse effect psychologically on the lives of your victims.”  Judge Nielsen also told Petersen that the victims he selected were young and vulnerable, “so not only were they victims, but their family members are victimized also as a result” of Petersen’s actions.

“This case unfortunately serves as a stark reminder of the need to educate children, even young teenagers, of the dangers that lurk online,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “Our office prioritizes these offenses against our community’s youngest and most vulnerable and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who harm children.” 

“For years now, Mr. Petersen has shown a willingness to exploit children.” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Not only did he receive and distribute disturbing images, he produced pornographic images with child victims he knew personally. This case demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and our partners to protect children from people like Mr. Petersen, who seek to harm and exploit them.” 

This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:

  • Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
  • Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
  • Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
  • Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
  • Community awareness and educational programs.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

The federal case was investigated by the Spokane Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.  Hannah Sterns, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, will now take custody of Mr. Petersen to complete the prosecution pertaining to the youngest production victim. 


Coeur d'Alene Physician Indicted for Participating in Telemarketing Medicare Fraud Conspiracy
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 06/07/23 10:32 PM

Indictment Charges Medical Doctor with Fraudulently Ordering More than $4 Million in Medically-Unnecessary Genetic Tests and Braces 

Spokane and Yakima, Washington – Today, Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that a grand jury returned an Indictment charging David Antonio Becerril, M.D., age 67, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and formerly of Selah, Washington, with sixteen counts of conspiracy, fraud, and false statements in connection with Dr. Becerril’s participation in a telemarketing health care fraud scheme. 

According to the Indictment returned today, between February 2018 and September 2019, Dr. Becerril, a licensed Washington physician, participated in a scheme and conspiracy to obtain millions of dollars by falsely billing Medicare for medically-unnecessary genetic tests and durable medical equipment, including back, knee, shoulder, and ankle braces. The Indictment alleges that Dr. Becerril signed false and fraudulent orders for genetic tests and braces for elderly Medicare beneficiaries that Dr. Becerril was not treating, and with whom he never spoke or interacted.  The Indictment alleges that, instead, telemarketers associated with a company known as Real Time Physicians, LLC (Real Time) contacted the elderly Medicare beneficiaries and obtained their personal information and beneficiary numbers. The Indictment alleges that Dr. Becerril, using an internet portal provided by Real Time, placed false and fraudulent orders for braces and genetic tests for the beneficiaries, signing orders and other documents prepared by Real Time that contained false medical information and made it appear that he was treating the beneficiaries. According to the Indictment, Real Time then sold the orders to genetic testing labs and durable medical equipment companies, who then billed Medicare, sharing the proceeds with Real Time.  The Indictment alleges that Real Time paid Dr. Becerril a $20 kickback for each beneficiary for which he placed a Medicare order. 

According to the Indictment, Dr. Becerril reviewed these orders for as little as 11 seconds before signing them and falsely attesting to their medical necessity, and never once declined to sign an order. The Indictment alleges that Medicare was billed $4.1 million for fraudulent orders signed by Dr. Becerril, who never once spoke to, treated, or interacted with a patient, and paid out more than $1.5 million before the fraud was uncovered. 

In June 2022, the Department of Justice announced that Marc Sporn, 59, of Delray Beach, Florida, the former owner of Real Time and other similar companies, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy to fraudulently bill Medicare. 

“For far too long, elderly members of our communities have faced abuse, neglect and exploitation,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “Studies show that one in ten elders report experiencing elder mistreatment each year. We take these crimes seriously, and our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting financial fraud scams, especially those that impact elderly members of our community.”

The charges against Becerril carry maximum sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Allie S. Jensen and Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Fruchter and Tyler H.L. Tornabene are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. 

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States v. Becerril, 1:23-cr-02029-SAB

Tue. 06/06/23
U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref Administers the Oath of Office to Three Women Selected to Serve as Federal Prosecutors in Eastern Washington (Photo)
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 06/06/23 6:32 PM
U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref (center) with, from left to right, SAUSA Allie S. Jensen, AUSA Frieda K. Zimmerman, AUSA Laurel J. Holland, and Criminal Chief Alison Gregoire
U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref (center) with, from left to right, SAUSA Allie S. Jensen, AUSA Frieda K. Zimmerman, AUSA Laurel J. Holland, and Criminal Chief Alison Gregoire

Spokane and Richland, WA – United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref announced today that three women – Laurel J. Holland, Frieda K. Zimmerman, and Allie S. Jensen – were sworn in as federal prosecutors for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. Holland, Zimmerman, and Jensen will represent the United States of America in criminal and civil cases prosecuted in federal court. Holland and Zimmerman will serve as Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs), and Jensen will serve as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA). 

AUSA Holland is the first ever federal prosecutor appointed to serve fulltime in the newly staffed U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richland, Washington. AUSA Zimmerman and SAUSA Jensen will serve out of the main office in Spokane. 

After administering the oath of office, U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated, “Today, each of these incredible women affirmed their commitment to execute faithfully their duties to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States. Each brings a wealth of experience, talent, and a strong commitment to public service.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued,” We know from experience that these three women are exceptional attorneys and prosecutors. They are dedicated to building safer and stronger communities for everyone in Eastern Washington.”

AUSA Holland will serve in the Criminal Division, which handles all manner of federal criminal cases on behalf of the United States.  Holland previously served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Benton County from October 2009 through October 2015 and again from January 2019 through May 2023. In between, Holland served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Yakima, Washington from 2015 through 2018. From April 2022 until now, Holland served as a SAUSA, handling cases in both state and federal court. Throughout her career, Holland has been recognized for her work prosecuting cases involving the exploitation of young children.  

AUSA Zimmerman, another member of the Office’s Criminal Division, will handle a variety of cases ranging from narcotics trafficking and illegal firearms possession to fraud and public corruption. Earlier this year, Zimmerman was honored by Attorney General Merrick Garland for her work at the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General. As a SAUSA for DOE, Zimmerman has been recognized as an expert in the areas of white-collar crime, False Claims Act cases, health care fraud, civil rights, and COVID-19 fraud. Prior to her federal service, Zimmerman served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and worked at a local law firm in Spokane.

SAUSA Jensen will handle white collar fraud for both the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2022, and later this year, she will begin a clerkship for the Honorable Zia M. Faruqui, who serves as a United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Prior to law school, Jensen was an elementary school teacher for the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington D.C. 

With today’s announcement, the Tri-Cities now has, for the first time ever, a staffed U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. Attorney Waldref stated, “Laurel Holland’s appointment as an Assistant United States Attorney marks a significant milestone for the Eastern District of Washington. When I became the United States Attorney a little more than a year ago, I made a commitment to open a staffed branch office in the Tri-cities, and we have worked tirelessly to make this happen. Today, we officially have fulfilled that promise.” She continued, “Our expansion in the Tri-Cities area is just getting started. We anticipate additional growth in the weeks, months, and years to come.”

Attached Media Files: U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref (center) with, from left to right, SAUSA Allie S. Jensen, AUSA Frieda K. Zimmerman, AUSA Laurel J. Holland, and Criminal Chief Alison Gregoire

Mon. 06/05/23
Clarkston School District Announces Sponsorship of 2023 Summer Food Service Program
Clarkston School District - 06/05/23 3:43 PM

Clarkston, WA – The Clarkston School District is excited to announce its sponsorship of the 2023 Summer Food Service Program, providing meals for children ages 1-18 throughout the summer.

From June 12, 2023, to August 11, 2023, children can enjoy nutritious meals at the designated sites listed below. Please note that meals will not be served on weekends or holidays. Specifically, there will be no service on June 19th, as well as July 3rd and 4th, which are observed holidays.

The program adheres to federal and state regulations, requiring meals to be consumed on-site to qualify for the program. The designated sites and their corresponding service hours are as follows:

Clarkston High School Cafeteria Address: 401 Chestnut Street, Clarkston, WA 99403 Serving Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Arnold Park Address: Ash and Maple Street, Clarkston, WA 99403 Serving Hours: 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

This program is an opportunity for children in our community to receive wholesome meals during the summer months when regular school meal programs are not available. We encourage all eligible families to take advantage of this valuable resource.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form(link is external), from any USDA office, by calling 866-632-9992 or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. Mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture 
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW 
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. Fax:833-256-1665 or 202-690-7442; or
  3. Email: ogram.intake@usda.gov/">USDA Program Intake(link is external)

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Attached Media Files: Everyone Wins with Summer Foods

Armed Drug Dealer Sentenced To Eight Years In Federal Prison
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 06/05/23 10:47 AM

Spokane, WA – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Joseph William Baker, age 28, of Airway Heights, Washington, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison by Senior District Court Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen. Baker was convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute 5 Grams of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(viii), stemming from a traffic stop on November 22, 2021. 

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, on November 22, 2021, the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office (“WCSO”) conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Baker in the Colfax, Washington area. Upon contact with WCSO deputies, Baker appeared extremely nervous and was shaking uncontrollably. He was unable to produce a driver’s license and advised the deputy that his driver’s license was suspended.  Baker was asked to get out of his car, and in doing so, the deputy noticed a bag of heroin on the floor of the vehicle.  A subsequent search of Baker’s person revealed methamphetamine in his pocket as well as just over $800 in U.S. Currency.  Baker admitted the money was from drug sales and that there was a loaded handgun in his car that may have been stolen. 

A state search warrant was obtained for Baker’s vehicle, and the WCSO located over 100 fentanyl-laced pills, approximately two ounces of methamphetamine, two ounces of heroin, two working digital scales with drug residue on them, and a loaded Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 ACP caliber semi-automatic firearm.  A record check on the firearm, and subsequent witness interviews, revealed the firearm was stolen from the Spokane area about a week prior to the traffic stop. After Baker’s federal indictment, he was released to attend drug treatment.  After about one week in treatment, Baker left, absconded from supervision, and was a fugitive for close to seven months before being located and rearrested.  

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Nielsen noted that drug trafficking is a very serious activity that harms the community. The Court explained that Baker’s activities fed the addictions of others and created additional addicts. Judge Nielsen further noted that Baker engaged in this dangerous conduct notwithstanding multiple prior felony convictions and a history of assaultive behavior.  As Judge Nielsen put it, Baker had “thumb[ed] his nose at the system,” by failing to appear for his criminal cases on at least twelve separate occasions. 

“I’m grateful for the professionalism and dedication of the federal and state law enforcement team, who work together to keep our communities safe,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “Mr. Baker brought dangerous drugs into our community and possessed stolen firearms that put our neighborhood at risk. Today’s sentence reaffirms our Office’s commitment to prevent violence and holding individuals accountable for their crimes.”   

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers stated, “I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this case and the cooperation we received from our federal partners. The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office will continue to pursue every avenue we can to keep our communities, streets and neighborhoods safe from those who intend to violate the law and traffic in dangerous and deadly narcotics.”  He continued, “The public expects its law enforcement agencies to protect and serve. In order to do that, we must also hold people accountable.  Todays’ sentence demonstrates that in Whitman County and Eastern Washington accountability is the rule, not the exception.”

“Mr. Baker received many opportunities to bring his conduct in line with the law, but repeatedly chose not to do so,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “Our communities are safer when we remove armed drug dealers from our streets for an extended period of time.”

This case was investigated by the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard. 

Case No.: 2:22-CR-024-WFN

Walla Walla Construction Technology Teacher Receives Surprise as Regional Teacher of the Year (Photo)
ESD 123 - 06/05/23 8:08 AM
Eric Matson with his students, Director Jerry Maher, and wife Jennifer Matson
Eric Matson with his students, Director Jerry Maher, and wife Jennifer Matson

WALLA WALLA, WA – On June 2nd, Walla Walla Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith paid a surprise visit to the classroom of SEATech Skills Center teacher, Mr. Eric Matson, to announce his selection by Educational Service District 123 as this year’s Regional Teacher of the Year. Mr. Matson serves as the SEATech Skills Center Construction Technology Instruction teacher.

ESD 123 Director of Teaching & Learning Molly Hamaker-Teals oversees the Teacher of the Year program for the region. She states, “Eric demonstrates a passion for Construction Trades, the success of each of his students, and their positive impact within the community.”

SEATech Center Skills Center Director Jerry Maher spoke of his pride in Mr. Matson. “Eric is an expert in his field,” Mr. Maher said.  “He collaborates with other educators in our area and across the Pacific Northwest…He has brought his years of experience in the construction industry, in manufacturing, and the private sector into his program, getting students and parents excited about possibilities in Construction Trades and beyond.”

According to Maher, Mr. Matson continuously adds to the certifications and qualifications that are available for his students to earn, connecting students with apprenticeships, work in local trades, and opportunities for post-secondary options.

SEATech is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) campus located in Walla Walla that partners with and serves students from six different school districts, including College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Waitsburg, and Walla Walla. SEATech is a branch campus of the Tri-Tech Skills Center in the Tri-Cities.

Mr. Matson is one of nine regional Teacher of the Year winners from Washington State who will go on to compete in the State competition organized by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). More information on the awards can be found at www.k12.wa.us/educator-support/awards-recognition/educator-awards/teacher-year


Attached Media Files: Eric Matson with his students, Director Jerry Maher, and wife Jennifer Matson , 2023-06/1212/163976/2_Eric_Matson_Award.jpg , Superintendent Dr. Smith with Eric Matson