West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Restaurateur Eduardo Morales-Cardenas sentenced for buying stolen liquor; co-defendant Eric Olson also sentenced

April 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At the King County Courthouse this afternoon, Puerto Vallarta restaurant owner Eduardo Morales-Cardenas was sentenced to just under one year with electronic home monitoring, plus community service, for buying stolen liquor.

One of his four co-defendants, Eric Olson, was sentenced immediately afterward. We recorded video of both hearings; and are uploading it now. (added 4:31 pm) here’s the first clip we have available, picking up after the prosecution recapped the case:

First, the proceedings involving Morales-Cardenas. As reported here two weeks ago, he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree trafficking in stolen property and one count of attempted trafficking in stolen property. The case first came to light last September, when he was arrested and his Junction restaurant and home searched in connection with an investigation of what authorities said was a liquor-theft ring mostly targeting supermarkets. Court documents indicated that alleged stolen property was confiscated; charges were filed in November.

Presiding at the sentencing was King County Superior Court Judge Carol Schapira. Prosecutor Susan Storey called the sentencing recommendation “a very good result”; she explained that “a significant quantity of liquor … and cash” was seized in the search of Morales-Cardenas’s properties, and that $15,000 cash would be kept and turned over to theft victims as restitution.

Morales-Cardenas spoke to the judge and said he apologized, and that he has been working for the community in West Seattle for 22 years. He said he is alcohol and drug free and that he likes to keep a liquor collection in his house and he was sorry it’s been seized. He said that he was trying to help Michael Jensen, one of the other co-defendants, go straight. He said some of what was found in his garage was there because he was helping Jensen. He said he “made a couple mistakes … I’m sorry … I’m not a ringleader for (liquor thefts) …” He also told the judge he was upset with WSB for reporting on his arrest and prosecution, and alleged that we had not taken his calls, and that our reporting of the story had harmed his business.

(For the record, we have no record of him calling us; the only communication we received was from a person who called and e-mailed us a few weeks ago, saying he was a friend of Morales-Cardenas, who, he said, would be interested in talking with us if we wanted to talk to him. We replied to the friend that Morales-Cardenas was welcome to contact us via the same e-mail address the friend had used; we never received a reply nor any communication from him. We repeat what we told the friend – he is welcome to contact us, editor@westseattleblog.com or 206-293-6302, the same communication channels to which we reply around the clock, 7 days a week. Or if he wishes to send a statement for publication, he is welcome to do that too.)

Before he spoke, Morales-Cardenas’s lawyer said that his client “is sorry (and) has suffered financially. … he understands the harm that has resulted from this, to the victims and the people around him … (it’s) threatened his business and his employees … it’s an aberration in what has otherwise been a very positive life.” He said Morales-Cardenas, who has no prior criminal record, already has done 50 hours of community service, including work at the Senior Center of West Seattle and is looking forward to helping out there more.

Those speaking to the court also included King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy B.J. Myers, lead investigator who “sunk his teeth into the case, he did a phenomenal job,” despite not being a detective, Storey told the judge. Myers said he got involved in the case because of the “effect … (the liquor thefts were) having in the White Center neighborhood … the crimes fueled (other defendants’) drug habit,” leading to thefts and disorderly conduct by others. “So I recognized that these suspects were affecting the peace of White Center and that building this case was going to make a difference. … The defendant (Morales-Cardenas) was the one who was purchasing the stolen liquor from these thieves … in effect incentivizing the effect these thieves were having on the White Center neighborhood. … Even though this is a different kind of case for a community police officer to (become involved in), we’ve seen it have an effect on the neighborhood.” Also speaking, a risk manager from Safeway, one of the chains targeted by the thieves from whom prosecutors say Morales-Cardenas bought stolen liquor.

Following Morales-Cardenas’s sentencing, another defendant in the case, Eric Olson, was sentenced for pleading guilty to organized retail theft; he had been charged with stealing liquor from stores including Safeway, QFC, and Costco.

He told Judge Schapira he was “ashamed” of what he had done. She sentenced him to 41 months – just under 3 1/2 years – in prison, and restitution to be determined later.

As for the three other people charged in the case:

As we reported last month, Amber Vincent pleaded guilty in February to organized retail theft and trafficking in stolen property, and was sentenced to three months of work release; Shaye Glenn-Nitschke also pleaded guilty in February, to one charge, and was released from jail because he’d served more time than he had been sentenced to. A fourth defendant, Michael Jensen, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and will be sentenced one week from today; he has a lengthy record and a 7 1/2-year sentence is recommended.

16 Comments

  1. Any news about the stolen meats and seafoods that were part of another case against the owner?

    Comment by Gina — 4:17 pm April 11, 2014 #

  2. Seriously? He spent more time complaining about the news coverage of his crime, and that his liquor was confiscated, than he spent acknowledging his crimes?

    Comment by Community Member — 4:24 pm April 11, 2014 #

  3. Gina – it was only mentioned briefly on the first page of the state’s sentencing memorandum (which incorporates details of the investigation and allegations), saying “In addition to stolen liquor, the investigation revealed that this defendant also purchased other types of stolen grocery store items from his codefendants such as beef and seafood.” I just re-read the entire document and nothing further was mentioned about that.

    Comment by WSB — 4:30 pm April 11, 2014 #

  4. He is good man and he is paying heavy price for his mistake. Please pray for him and hid family.

    Comment by Dave — 4:33 pm April 11, 2014 #

  5. He is honest man and now paying heavy price for his mistake I want to forgive him.

    Comment by Dave — 4:50 pm April 11, 2014 #

  6. This restaurant has forever lost our business which is a shame because we liked it. I can’t bring myself to even remotely have the chance to drink stolen liquor or eat stolen food.

    Comment by Under Achiever — 5:43 pm April 11, 2014 #

  7. My prayers are with the victims.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:45 pm April 11, 2014 #

  8. Wow. Slap on the wrist and we are all supposed to feel sorry for Lalo? I had been a customer of PV for nearly 20 years until this happened. Even then I still wanted to support his employees. Then Lalo pulled that selfish move of not paying a minimal $1000 fine and instead put his employees out of work for ten days. Now he gets a slap on the wrist and someone else gets years in prison. I can no longer give him the benefit of doubt- he’s a terrible person who had no remorse for his crime nor regard for his employees or the community. Shame on you Lalo. You’ve lost this customer for life- we will miss Karla in the bar and I sincerely hope she finds a better job elsewhere.

    Comment by HelperMonkey — 5:51 pm April 11, 2014 #

  9. An unbelievable amount of liquor is stolen from grocery stores. Perhaps this will slow now that these losers are locked up.

    Comment by WestSide45 — 8:09 pm April 11, 2014 #

  10. Reminder that we have rules, among them, no extreme profanity. One comment just submitted with two such words will not be approved for publication. Thanks! – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 8:52 pm April 11, 2014 #

  11. Many in White Center are fans of Deputy B.J. Meyers. His diligence is appreciated.

    Way to get it done, BJ.

    Thank you.

    ps. I just hope Mr. Morales isn’t catering over at the Sr. Center. I hope my neighbors rethink where they vote with their money – I vote no and won’t be spending a penny at Puerto Vallarta.

    Shame upon you, Mr. Morales. Your actions and your actions alone brought all of this upon you. Stop blaming other people and stop pretending you do not impact your neighbors or other businesses by negative reputations. It was *you* who committed crimes. Criminals pay a price – which includes being shamed and shunned.

    Comment by Good Work BJ — 12:31 am April 12, 2014 #

  12. His crimes are a slap in the face to all of the honest business owners who are running their businesses legally and ethically.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 10:19 am April 12, 2014 #

  13. I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt until he whined about media coverage of his arrest. Boo Hoo. Let’s see now, he is helping Jensen go straight by participating in an organized theft ring with him. Wow.

    Comment by KT — 10:30 am April 12, 2014 #

  14. Now all we need to do us get the King County Sheriffs Department to do something about the blatant drug dealing happening out of the front apartment windows of the old club EVO building and DK Cafe in white
    center.

    Comment by BJ Save Us — 11:26 am April 12, 2014 #

  15. 1 year of Home monitoring is nothing. He knowingly supported illegal activity for a financial gain. He made an economic choice which in short run saved him money. What he didn’t know is that he Supported people like Michael Jensen who have intimidated and harassed local store employees in their thefts and caused economic and financial harm to some of the lowest paid employees in Seattle. Having met his booster in person, he made his bed by associating with scum bags, looks like he’ll get to lie in it (in comfort at his own home). I am only sorry that this was the only guy they have caught doing this.

    Comment by That — 11:21 am April 16, 2014 #

  16. His comments to the judge are insulting and embarrassing. He accepted no responsibility.

    I have trouble understanding why someone who is drug and alcohol free would keep an extensive liquor collection. I also have trouble understanding why you’d buy stolen goods from someone you were trying to help get straight.

    I wish I could say I’d never go to PV again, but I never really went there to begin with. I hope all the employees manage to find a better job before it inevitably shuts down.

    Comment by WMF — 10:40 pm April 17, 2014 #

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