Support Local Journalism


Scores of people reportedly were affected as part of an alleged identify theft and check washing ring, whose three members are at large awaiting trial in Kittitas County Superior Court.

Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputies searched hotel rooms in Cle Elum and made three arrests in mid-January associated to multiple now-pending cases. The suspects face more than 50 criminal counts.

Deputies responded after hearing from a bail bond agent that Cle Elum’s Bobbi Jo Coonce, 33, who had a warrant out for her arrest, may have been at the Stuart Lodge with her husband, 31-year-old Christopher Bryan Kelley of Cle Elum, according to court documents

After observing their hotel room, the agent contacted the sheriff’s office Jan. 13, when he saw Coonce, Kelley and others loading items into the trunk of a car. Deputies arrived and arrested Coonce and 21-year-old Christopher Allen Collins of South Cle Elum.

Kelley had already left, and a warrant is out for his arrest, according to court records.

Collins was booked on suspicion of drug charges. He has since been charged in another case, associated with a search and other arrests made at the Stuart Lodge the next day, according to court records.

Items recovered

Identification and financial information from dozens of individuals and businesses were recovered as part of the investigation.

Items recovered in a search of Coonce’s room included passports, checks, debit cards, vehicle and health insurance information, vehicle registrations, drivers licenses, company ID cards, Social Security information and a flight attendant’s security badge, according to sheriff’s office records.

Washed and unwashed checks and other information belonging to more than 50 people and businesses were taken as evidence, according to sheriff’s office reports.

Coonce, Kelley and a third suspect — a Tacoma man named Chad Daniel Sullivan, 31, who also has a warrant out for his arrest — face multiple different charges of identity theft, controlled substance possession, possessing burglar’s tools, possession of stolen mail and property and unlawful possession of payment instruments — 50 counts total between the three.

Unlawful possession of payment instruments can include using a check without permission, “washing” checks to remove signatures or otherwise altering checks.

Coonce’s trial in that case is scheduled for March 10, with the next hearing — on discovery — Tuesday.

In another pending case, Coonce is charged with possession of stolen property, unlawful production of payment instruments and improperly obtaining financial instruments related to the alleged November theft of a Central Washington University student employee’s paycheck.

That trial is set for March 3. She pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Other suspects, cases

Collins was arrested along with 27-year-old Aeighla Marie Nelson of Cle Elum. With Cle Elum’s Kyle Patrick Collins, 25, they’re charged with 20 different counts of theft, unlawful production of payment instruments, possession of stolen property, possession of stolen mail, forgery, using drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substances.

Nelson and Christopher Collins pleaded not guilty.

Christopher Collins’ trial is currently scheduled for March 3 and Nelson’s for March 17.

Kyle Collins’ arraignment, where he’d be formally charged and make a plea, is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Recommended for you


Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.