Accused Wallet Thief Caught on Page One

Updated: 12/14/2007


Police didn't have to look far to find a man suspected of stealing a woman's wallet — just an inch down the page. On the front page of its Thursday edition, The Lewiston Tribune ran a photo of a man in a blue and black checkered coat standing in a convenience store.

The photo was taken from the store's surveillance video, which reportedly shows the man slipping the wallet in his coat pocket and walking away. The picture of the possible purloiner ran along with a story explaining that a woman had forgotten her wallet at the store, and that police were now trying to identify the man in the video.

Also on the front page ran a festive photo of a holiday scene taken by the newspaper's photographer, Kyle Mills. That photo showed a man — in a blue and black coat — painting decorative Christmas greetings on storefront windows. The caption identified the man as Michael Millhouse of Millhouse Signs in Lewiston.

Some sharp-eyed copy editors at the newspaper first noticed the matching photos as they were laying out the newspaper Wednesday night and wondered if they showed the same man, managing editor Paul Emerson said Thursday.

''They were pointing it out and laughing about it,'' Emerson said.

A newspaper employee called the nearby Clarkston, Wash., police department early the next morning to report their suspicions.

Police Chief Joel Hastings said that after picking up a copy of the paper, Officer Jeremy Maguire contacted Millhouse and asked about the wallet. Millhouse was subsequently arrested and charged with felony second-degree theft. He is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, Asotin County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Nichols said, and he was released from custody after posting $5,000 bond.

Nichols said Thursday that it wasn't a simple case of finders, keepers.

''We've got a signed, written confession from him where he says, 'What I did was wrong, it was stupid,' blah, blah blah,'' Nichols said.

Police also located the wallet, which still contained the owner Jami Johnson's driver's license and three credit cards. But Johnson says $600 in cash — money from her paycheck that she planned to use for Christmas — was missing.

If convicted, Millhouse could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $10,000.

The only phone listing for M. Millhouse in the region is an unlisted number, and The Associated Press could not reach Millhouse for comment.


Information from: Lewiston Tribune,

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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