East Wenatchee officer sentenced for Mill Bay wallet-theft incident

Officer Josh Virnig with East Wenatchee Police Chief Randy Harrison in May, at a ceremony naming him the department's Officer of the Year. (City of East Wenatchee)

WENATCHEE — An East Wenatchee police officer who lifted a woman’s wallet from her purse at Mill Bay Casino pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Officer Joshua Michael Virnig, who’s been on administrative leave from the force since the July 26 incident, received a deferred sentence. If he does not violate the law in the next 12 months, he will have no criminal record. He must also pay about $400 in costs and fees.

Officer Josh Virnig in 2015

Virnig, 29, formerly served on the Wenatchee Police Department. Witnesses and security video caught him trying to lift a wallet from a woman’s purse on the casino floor, while her back was turned.

Chelan County sheriff’s deputies arrived and investigated, citing Virnig with a more serious felony charge of third-degree theft. His plea does away with that more serious misdemeanor charge.

“I was intoxicated and mistakenly believed that (the victim) was part of a group I had met earlier in the evening through my friend,” Virnig wrote in his plea statement. “My intent was never to steal or deprive (the victim) of her wallet or its contents, but a misguided attempt at a joke.”

Chelan County District Court Judge Kyle Mott ordered Virnig to undergo a chemical dependency assessment, and barred him from consuming alcohol or visiting bars during his deferral. Mott also ordered him not to enter the Mill Bay Casino.

Just last May, the East Wenatchee Police Department recognized Virnig as its Officer of the Year for 2019.

Virnig apologized to the victim. In a letter filed with the court, the victim wrote, “I respect your apology and I do accept it, although I am still having a difficult time with this situated that you have created.

“… Whatever your intentions were, that type of behavior is not acceptable, and I do not take your actions lightly,” she wrote.