Former private investigator accused of buying cellphones with bad checks

A former private investigator previously convicted of witness tampering has been accused of forgery and stealing several cellphones.

Bail was set at $15,000 Thursday for Stephanie Lynn Barnes, 39, who is in the Yakima County jail on suspicion of two counts of forgery and a single count of theft.

Yakima police allege that Barnes bought several cellphones in July at the U.S. Cellular store in the 1300 block of North 40th Avenue, according to court documents. Barnes paid for the phones with a $999.57 check written on the account of S&P Consulting.

When the check didn’t clear, Barnes returned to the store with another check written on an account with a different business name, according to an affidavit filed by police, and then bought more phones and paid with another check for $216.39 from the second account.

Later, when that check did not clear, a store employee contacted Barnes about bringing the phones back. Barnes, the affidavit said, told the employee to talk to her lawyer.

Police contacted the banks the checks were written on, and were told that the S&P Consulting account was closed in July, and that checks written on the other account were invalid because money could only be withdrawn in the form of prepaid cards.

Barnes was sentenced to five months in jail in January after pleading guilty to two counts of witness tampering. One of the counts related to allegations that Barnes had pressured a witness in an assault case in Yakima to change her statement that her boyfriend threatened her with a gun.

The other count involved a kidnapping case handled by the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, where Barnes was accused of relaying bribes from the suspects to one of the victims to stop him from cooperating with prosecutors.

Barnes lost her private investigator’s license as a result of the conviction.


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