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Man convicted on stolen property charge


His neighbor across the street thought this sign, in Toulou's yard facing hers, was a threat posted just before she was scheduled to testify against him. - Scott Hunter photo

A Grand Coulee man awaits sentencing in Grant County Superior Court after being found guilty in a jury trial last week.

Melvin Toulou Jr. 43, was convicted Thursday of one count of possession of stolen property in the second degree, a class C felony.

The charges stem from a car prowl that was discovered on the morning of Aug. 13, 2016. On that day, victims Gretchen and Brandon Whitelaw, who live on Division Street in Grand Coulee, reported to Grand Coulee police that someone broke into their car, which was parked in the driveway at their residence, and stole a digital camera.

The next day, the Grant County Prosecutor's Office stated, the Whitelaws discovered that their fishing pack, filled with over 1,000 fishing flies, was also missing, stolen at the same time as the digital camera.

A few days later, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Alan White stated, the victims went to Toulou's residence at 308 Burdin Boulevard and demanded their property back, and Toulou gave the fishing pack to them. Gretchen Whitelaw returned a few minutes later and demanded the rest of their property, and at that time Toulou gave up the digital camera.

Toulou made contradictory statements to an arresting officer from the Grand Coulee Police Department as to how he had obtained the property.

Becky Billups, who lives across the street from Toulou and was called as a witness to testify against Toulou, had told Grand Coulee police Feb. 26 that Toulou had erected a profane sign facing her home stating, "ITS NEVER TO LATE TO SHUT THE F--- UP AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSSINESS." She told police that she took it as a threat.

Toulou had asked for a jury trial, which was held March 15-16. He was found guilty of the charge of possession of stolen property.

The state asked the judge to take Toulou into custody pending a sentencing hearing, but the judge allowed Toulou to return home to settle his affairs with the understanding that he would turn himself in the next morning.

When Toulou failed to show up the following day, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was in Grant County Jail on Tuesday.

Under a C-level felony, the prosecutor's office stated, Toulou faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Grand Coulee police have had numerous contacts with Toulou both before the incident and since.

The date for sentencing has not been set.

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