Two Friday Harbor residents have been charged with stealing a car and impersonating its owner in an attempt to sell it.
Chelsey A. Tappan, 34, and Clayton C. Barnett, 39, were both charged with criminal impersonation in the first degree and theft in the third degree in San Juan County Superior Court. Barnett was also charged with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the determination for probable cause, at approximately 6:24 p.m. on Jan. 4, a deputy met the reporting party at a house on Front Street in Friday Harbor regarding an alleged theft. The reporting party, who we’ll call “Jan” for the sake of anonymity, contacted the sheriff’s office because she thought a vehicle they had purchased from Barnett and Tappan may have been stolen property.
When the deputy arrived at the address, Jan was standing next to the vehicle, a green Mazda Protége with Washington plates. The deputy recognized the vehicle as belonging to another Friday Harbor resident, and a records check verified that ownership.
Jan said she was talking with Tappan, who was selling the car, on Facebook. According to the Jan, she had driven to the island and allegedly met Tappan and Barnett in Lot C of the Washington State Ferries parking lot.
Jan said she paid $400 cash for the vehicle but was told there was no title. Tappan then wrote a bill of sale when asked for one, she said. The bill of sale was written on a piece of paper.
Tappan allegedly told Jan that the car was hers and that she had lost the title. Jan also claimed that Tappan signed the registration and bill of sale in front of her with the car owner’s name. The transaction allegedly occurred in the presence of Barnett, according to Jan, who later discovered via Facebook that Tappan was not whom she had claimed to be.
Jan then asked Tappan and Barnett to meet up with her at Wells Fargo to sign a release of interest. The two never showed up. She sent texts and called Tappan and Barnett to request a refund but was allegedly told that half of the money had already been spent.
Barnett then reportedly claimed the car wasn’t legally Tappan’s but that she “has the rights to it.” Jan said she would take $200 for the car and be done with it, but Tappan and Barnett allegedly refused and said everything was legal. Barnett supposedly told Jan he was trying to help Tappan find the title.
Upon the deputy’s arrival at the scene, the car was impounded on an evidentiary hold. Two deputies arrested Barnett and Tappan that night and transported the pair to the sheriff’s station. One deputy claimed that he located two small clear containers and a clear glass pipe with methamphetamine in them on Barnett. A field test confirmed this, according to court documents.
Barnett pleaded guilty to the methamphetamine charges during an arraignment on Jan. 14 and was sentenced to one month of work crew and a $500 fine on Feb. 7. He pleaded not guilty to the other two charges. His next court dates are a readiness hearing on March 25 and a jury trial set to begin at 9 a.m. on April 9.
Barnett’s criminal record includes two charges of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, a minor in possession charge and a violation of the controlled substance act.
Tappan pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Jan. 14. Her upcoming court dates include an omnibus hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 11, a readiness hearing at 9:30 a.m. on March 25 and a jury trial set to begin at 9 a.m. on April 9. She has no prior criminal record.