An East Wenatchee police officer was charged with theft after allegedly trying to steal a woman’s wallet at Mill Bay Casino in Manson on July 26.
Officer Josh Virnig was cited July 26 after Chelan County Sheriff’s deputies identified him on casino surveillance footage.
Virnig is due to appear in Chelan County District Court next Wednesday.
He was recognized earlier this year as one of the area’s top law enforcement officers.
Prosecutors have filed a motion asking that the charge against Virnig be dismissed.
But Chelan County Prosecutor Doug Shae said that’s only because they are pondering additional charges.
Virnig has been placed on paid administrative leave by the East Wenatchee Police Department as they do their own internal investigation, according to Assistant Police Chief Ray Coble.
Women reportedly stopped theft
According to a report by Sgt. Adam Musgrove of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, a woman reported that Virnig took her wallet out her purse while she wasn’t looking.
The woman and her mother spotted the theft and grabbed the wallet from Virnig, Musgrove wrote after viewing the video.
The incident started when Musgrove responded to a trespassing call at the casino where a male was refusing to leave.
That man, Joey Johanson, had to be forcibly removed from the casino.
Casino security told Musgrove that another man who was with Johanson had stolen a wallet earlier in the night.
Johanson’s wife identified the man as Virnig. Musgrove and fellow Deputy Zach Brunner then positively identified Virnig on surveillance video.
The video reportedly shows Virnig standing at a gaming table before reaching into the victim’s purse and taking her wallet.
After the woman grabbed the wallet back and pushed Virnig, he walked away and they called casino security.
After seeing the video, Musgrove located Virnig in his RV at Don Morse Park in Chelan where Virnig reportedly, “had strong smells of intoxication coming from his breath.”
Virnig did not deny taking the wallet and claimed the victim was in Johanson’s group and he took the wallet as a way of “playing around.”
Musgrove said he told Virnig that Johanson claimed to have not known the victim and he then cited him.
Johanson was subsequently issued a criminal citation for resisting arrest and trespass in the second degree.
Earlier in the night the jail advised that they were on booking restrictions and that only mandatory arrests would be booked, therefore neither Virnig nor Johanson were taken to jail.
Musgrove later contacted the victim who said she was willing to give a statement and wanted to pursue charges.
Virnig also gained some notoriety after making a drunken driving arrest last December while on his way to receive an award for his efforts to crack down on DUIs.