News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Tacoma Woman Sentenced To Prison For Identity Theft Linked To Car Prowls At Mt. Rainier National Park

Defendant Linked to 16 Car Break-ins From May to July 2010

April 23, 2012

            A Tacoma woman who victimized more than a dozen visitors to Mount Rainier National Park, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to two years in prison, three years of supervised release and $7,034 in restitution for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  PAMELA N. WILLIAMS, 25, and her codefendant Matthew Mortinson, broke into vehicles parked at various trailheads, stealing computers, credit cards and other valuables.  Some victims had been away from their cars for only an hour when the break-ins occurred.  In each case the defendant admits a member of the conspiracy damaged the vehicle by smashing windows or removing the truck canopy to gain access.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ordered that WILLIAMS be banned from Mount Rainer National Park during her supervised release.  “This is a serious offense,” Judge Settle said. “Unless you have been the victim of this type of offense, you don’t have an appreciation of how disruptive these crimes are on the lives of victims.”

            According to records filed in the case, WILLIAMS and Mortinson broke into vehicles at Paul Peak trailhead, Comet Falls trailhead, Crystal Lakes trailhead, White River Campground, and the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.  The pair stole backpacks, purses and wallets from the cars. They took laptop computers, passports, outdoor tools and credit cards.  They used the credit cards to make unauthorized purchases.  Mortinson was arrested following a traffic stop, because of a warrant for his arrest out of the state of Oregon.  After he was jailed in Pierce County, further investigation linked the two to the break-ins.  A search of WILLIAMS’ residence turned up some of the stolen goods.  Mortinson is scheduled for trial in June.  WILLIAMS pleaded guilty in December 2011.

            In their sentencing memo prosecutors wrote “Williams’ conduct was egregious.  Not only does identity theft leave nearly all members of society who engage in even the most basic economic transactions feeling vulnerable, trailhead car prowling seriously undermines the public’s enjoyment of its natural areas.”

            The case was investigated by National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers and Special Agents and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm.

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