The Onalaska woman accused of stealing a substantial amount of mail in Lewis County pleaded not guilty Thursday to the 11 new felony charges on Thursday morning.
Those charges — 10 counts of second-degree identity theft and one count each of mail theft, second-degree possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance while in a correctional facility — stem from stolen mail law enforcement found in her purse when she was arrested on a failure to appear warrant in Chehalis on Saturday. A baggie of suspected fentanyl pills was later found in her bra at the Lewis County Jail, according to court documents.
The defendant, Amber K. Ingram, 40, was initially arrested in January and posted $10,000 bail on Jan. 17. She was released from custody under conditions that included appearing in court for all mandatory hearings.
One of those mandatory hearings was scheduled for Feb. 16. She was not present due to a flat tire, according to court documents. The hearing was rescheduled to Feb. 23, but when Ingram did not show up for that hearing, a judge issued a no-bail bench warrant.
Ingram has since claimed her attorney, Jacob Clark, failed to inform her of that Feb. 23 hearing.
“I don’t know if that was an actual mixup or what happened … I don’t know if she intentionally tried to miss court at that time,” Clark said during Ingram’s arraignment hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday.
Bail was set at $100,000 in the new case on Tuesday.
Deputy Prosecutor Joe Bassetti asked a judge to set the same amount of bail for Ingram’s initial case, which includes 30 separate felony charges related to stolen mail found in her possession in January.
Of the stolen mail recovered by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Bassetti said, “it’s so voluminous that the sheriff’s office does not have the total list of victims, which is over 1,000 at this point.”
A judge granted Bassetti’s request for $100,000 bail on Thursday. Ingram must post bail in both cases in order to be released before her case is resolved.
Trial for both cases is currently scheduled to begin April 18.
As of Wednesday, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office had returned mail to approximately 65 identified victims.
Evidence staff “still are making their way through everything, trying to focus on those that contain credit cards, items, etc., as well as those victims who know they have been victims of financial fraud as a result (of the theft),” said Field Operations Chief Dusty Breen in an email to a Chronicle reporter on Wednesday.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone who knows they have suffered identity theft or financial loss to contact its main office at 360-748-9286.