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Suspect arrested in post office theft, 146 charges pending

Tricia Lee Johnley, 31, of Toppenish, arrested by Sunnyside police officers May 23, faces 146 charges stemming from investigation of thefts from post office boxes at the Sunnyside Post Office during the Cinco de Mayo weekend festivities.

The burglary at the post office was reported May 7 and officers recovered stolen mail and checks on May 15 from a room at Sunnyside's Sun Valley Inn that was registered to Johnley.

"We were looking for her from May 15, and when she attempted to cash a bad check at a convenience store here in town on May 23, a clerk called us and officers responded and placed her under arrest," said Detective Sgt. Jeff Cunningham, who is carrying out the investigation with Detective Chumley.

The charges that have been made against Johnley include 95 counts of improperly obtaining financial information, 47 counts of possession of stolen property in the second degree and four counts of identity theft.

"We are receiving more reports every day from all the checks that have been passed," said Cunningham.

Some of the charges are related to the thefts from the 15 post office boxes that were broken into May 7 in Sunnyside.

"Others stem from notes and a ledger book we recovered from a search of a vehicle impounded on May 23 when she was arrested," said Cunningham.

"We searched that vehicle last week and recovered evidence linking her to a large numnber of identity thefts. We called the Postal Inspection Service and they will be filing federal charges against her," said Cunningham.

He said that evidence showed that stolen checks had been used to open bank accounts after chemicals had been used to delete names on checks and a forged name added.

The ledger book contained "page after page of information on people" including their birth dates, financial information and other personal data, according to Cunningham.

Johnley was held in the Sunnyside Jail for several days while the investigation was initially underway. She has since been transferred to the Yakima County Jail.

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