News

Witness doubted, so bail discounted

By JESSIE STENSLAND

Staff reporter

An Island County Superior Court judge lowered bail from $250,000 to $50,000 for a South Whidbey man accused of trafficking in stolen property and owning a couple of pipe bombs.

But if John Stumpf, 44, makes bail, he’ll have to stay home and submit to electronic home monitoring. He’d only be allowed to have contact with family members and his son’s caregivers.

Stumpf, who was arrested in an Island County Sheriff’s Office sting at his Freeland home in September, is facing a long list of felonies, though his attorney is already providing a vigorous defense.

Stumpf was charged in Island County Superior Court Sept. 25 with two counts of possession of a prohibited explosive device, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen property in the first degree, possession of an illegal firearm, conspiracy to commit, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of methamphetamine.

In a separate case involving antique furniture, Stumpf was charged Nov. 6 with possession of stolen property in the second degree and trafficking in stolen property.

A man who worked for Stumpf as a “money collector and enforcer” had a falling out with him and went to police last fall about his activities, according to a sheriff’s office report. When Stumpf was arrested, the sheriff’s office hauled away a moving truck full of items allegedly stolen from construction worksites.

The man, who is a member of an outlaw motorcycle club called the “Ghost Riders,” claimed Stumpf was trafficking drugs and stolen property from his Rhodie Lane home. The man said Stumpf had used violence and intimidation to get people to pay what they owed him.

The report states that the sheriff’s office served a search warrant on Stumpf’s home Sept. 20 and recovered numerous stolen items, including gardening equipment, power tools, stereo equipment, a trolling motor, two pickup canopies and fishing equipment. The stolen items matched items reported missing in at least 10 Island County burglaries, Birchfield wrote.

The deputies also seized two stolen firearms from Stumpf’s home, the report states, as well as some loose methamphetamine.

According to the report, a deputy found two devices in Stumpf’s garage that turned out to be homemade bombs, fused and ready to go. A deputy who is also a retired Navy explosives expert disarmed both bombs.

Yet in a motion to lower bail, Stumpf’s attorney, Roy Howson of Mount Vernon, argued that the prosecution’s case relies solely on the “unreliable” testimony of an outlaw biker. Howson pointed out that Stumpf’s accuser is wanted on warrants and has four assault convictions on his record, whereas Stumpf has no criminal history.

Howson wrote in a brief to Island County Superior Court that Stumpf and his wife took in many troubled youth, youth who left stolen items in his home. He wrote that the pistol and the pipe bombs belonged to Stumpf’s “son and / or friends.” He claimed that the meth was actually Ritalin, for which Stumpf’s son has a prescription.

If convicted of the charges against him, Stumpf would face nine to 12 years in prison.

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