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‘Known drug dealer’ among four arrested at Fred Meyer, authorities say

Brookings Police arrested four Crescent City residents Tuesday after they allegedly used a stolen credit card to try to purchase more than $1,000 worth of merchandise at the Fred Meyer store.

The suspects also face other possible charges, including possession of drugs, carrying concealed weapons, identity theft and parole violation, said Brookings Police Detective Tyler McCourt.

“One of the suspects was pushing a grocery cart around while the others were loading it up with stuff — it’s a sign that they might be getting ready to run or use a stolen credit card,” McCourt said Friday.

Arrested were Brenda Hess, 30; Dennie Sanderson, 26; Michael Loftin, 30; and Theresa Gokey, 40.

Police dispatch received a call at 9:30 a.m. from Fred Meyer personnel about the suspects, who reportedly used a credit card to purchase a GPS device at the electronics department and then went on a shopping spree through the rest of the store, McCourt said.

Store security and McCourt, who was in plain clothes, kept an eye on the suspects, while another officer waited outside. 

At one point, three of the four suspects left the store and went to a vehicle, which they drove to another part of the parking lot. Police checked the license plate of the vehicle and learned that it belonged to Hess and that she was wanted for an assault warrant out of Jackson County.

Police contacted the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office and learned that Hess was a known drug dealer in Crescent City and was known to carry a concealed weapon, McCourt said.

While the three suspects waited in the car, Hess tried to use a credit card without success to purchase the cartload of merchandise. 

When Hess left the store at about 11 a.m. with only the GPS device, McCourt arrested her without incident. A quick body search revealed she had three “throwing-style” daggers in her socks, McCourt said.

By that time, the other three had left their vehicle and started walking south on Chetco Avenue, where they were stopped by authorities and questioned, McCourt said.

Once authorities determined the credit card they were using was stolen from a Crescent City resident, the three were also arrested.

During a search of Hess’ vehicle, officers found a small amount of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia. They also found a small notebook with people’s names and personal identification information, McCourt said.

Here are additional details about the four:

• Hess was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, identity theft, possession of methamphetamine and heroin, carrying a concealed weapon and a warrant for assault.

• Sanderson was arrested on conspiracy to commit first-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, identity theft and possession of methamphetamine.

Last November, he was sentenced to 180 days in the Del Norte County Jail and fined $260 for battery on a peace officer and obstructing/resisting a police officer; and sentenced to 60 days in the County Jail and fined $260 for obstructing/resisting a police officer and public intoxication.

• Loftin was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and identity theft.

In 2011, Del Norte charges were dismissed against him in connection with a baseball bat assault, and in 2009 a Del Norte jury acquitted him of assaulting his cousin with a rock.

• Gokey was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, identity theft and a parole violation.

In 2010, she was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $12,205  for three counts of burglary in Del Norte, but gained early release.

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