Crime

Ferndale man, convicted of 21st felony, sentenced for stolen cars

A Ferndale man caught snooping through mailboxes in a stolen car must serve 25 months in prison and 25 months under state supervision, a Whatcom County judge ruled.

A man in a black car was reported to police for looking into mailboxes around 1 a.m. March 16 at Pine and Sunshine drives in north Ferndale.

Officers tracked down a black Honda Civic minutes later about a block away. They asked the driver, Wendall Lee Davidson, 31, if he knew who had been rifling through the mailboxes.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Davidson replied, according to charging papers.

Police documented envelopes on the seats of the car: 257 pieces of mail addressed to 34 homes.

“Much of the mail,” the charges state, “contained medical and financial information and suspected identification information.”

The black Honda had been stolen, too, police later learned. The car’s apparent owner had become behind on her payments, and once the dealership heard of Davidson’s arrest in the Honda, it was repossessed. However, they found the vehicle identification number on the dashboard didn’t match the one under the hood. And now, the car was black.

Someone had taken the ignition, locks and license plates from the woman’s white ’93 Honda Civic and put them into the black ’93 Honda Civic. The black car had been stolen from Skagit County, according to charging papers. Davidson was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and 10 counts of possession of stolen mail.

He posted bond March 29.

Five weeks later, police pulled over a 2002 Honda Civic covered in black spray paint at Silver Reef Casino. Davidson said the car was his, but it had been reported stolen April 22 in Bellingham – and on the date of the report it was a white car.

In a backpack in the car, police found gloves, a screwdriver, pliers, three rings of keys, a set for picking locks and a garage door opener. Davidson said he was homeless, so police noted that he would have “no legitimate reason to have a garage door opener.” He denied owning the backpack, until an officer pulled out a pair of underwear about Davidson’s size.

He was booked into jail again.

Davidson’s criminal record began in 2002, when he was convicted of felony assault as a teen. As an adult, he has been found guilty of four burglaries, nine counts of felony theft, theft of a firearm, theft of a motor vehicle, unlawful issuing of bank checks, forgery and drug possession.

I think he realizes this is the time he needs to start making changes in his life.

Leanne Stogsdill, deputy public defender

He pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle. The charges of possessing stolen mail – a less serious charge, under Washington law – were dropped in the plea deal.

Most or all of his past crimes were linked to his drug habit, said Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Waldron. No personal information in the stolen mail was compromised, and all of the mail has been, or will be, returned to rightful owners, the prosecutor told a reporter.

Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder sentenced Davidson to a drug offender sentencing alternative, known as a DOSA, as suggested by the plea deal. He will serve a total of four years and two months under supervision of the state Department of Corrections. Half of that time will be served in prison. Once he’s out, he will be monitored by a probation officer and routinely tested for drugs.

Davidson thanked the judge. He made no other comment in court.

“Mr. Davidson is married. He has a young baby here present,” said his deputy public defender, Leanne Stogsdill. “He has another child on the way. So I think he realizes this is the time he needs to start making changes in his life.”

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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