Sent to look for a possibly drunk driver, Powell police instead found a stolen vehicle and evidence of stolen identities during a Friday night traffic stop.
Two North Dakota residents — Christopher M. Garrison, 25, and Shannon M. Malone, 32 — were arrested after police reportedly found other people’s credit cards, Social Security cards, passports, a fake vehicle registration card, a small amount of drugs, roughly $5,000 in cash and other items inside the Chevrolet Suburban they were driving.
“It seems clear that Malone and Garrison have been involved in the theft of several identities,” Powell Police Sgt. Chad Miner alleged in a sworn statement filed to support charges against the two.
Police also say the Suburban had been stolen from a Hertz rental outlet at the Bismarck, North Dakota, airport around Dec. 15.
Court records say Garrison and Malone generally denied any knowledge of having anything stolen or illegal in their vehicle.
They made their first court appearances on Christmas Eve (Saturday), where Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set each of their bonds at $25,000 cash. They remained in jail on Wednesday.
Malone and Garrison are each charged with three felony counts: theft of $1,000 or more, possession of a controlled substance in pill form and possession of a controlled substance in plant form. Charging documents say the drug charges stem from police finding marijuana in Malone’s pocket and a portion of a single pill of alprazolam (an anti-anxiety medication sometimes marketed as Xanax) in her purse.
The possession charges are felonies because prosecutors are alleging it would be Garrison’s and Malone’s third or subsequent conviction for possession.
Police were called at 10:18 p.m. Friday for a report of a man drinking a beer and driving a Suburban near McDonald’s; dispatchers soon determined the vehicle had been reported as stolen.
Miner located the Suburban at Blair’s Market and — with the assistance of another officer and a Park County Sheriff’s deputy — pulled it over and ordered the occupants out at gunpoint.
When Miner retrieved Garrison’s driver’s license from his wallet, the officer also found three other people’s credit cards inside.
Inside Malone’s purse, police reportedly found $1,000 in cash, another woman’s ID and a credit card in the name of a North Dakota woman.
Another purse — which Malone said belonged to an unnamed friend — held $4,000 in cash, Miner said.
In addition, “We located a black case that contained several different identities, (Social Security) cards, passports, credit cards and receipts,” Miner wrote. “There was nothing that clearly belonged to Malone or Garrison in this case.”
The affidavit indicates police found sensitive documents in the names of at least five different people; one woman had reported having her identity stolen and another had reported being the victim of check fraud, Bismarck police told Miner.
Miner said police also seized an “obviously homemade” Idaho registration card for the stolen Suburban in Garrison’s name and an apparently fraudulent lien release for the vehicle.
“The car also contained a large amount of new merchandise, mostly clothing and shoes,” Miner wrote.
Garrison told police he wanted to take responsibility for everything in the vehicle, including Malone’s purse and the marijuana found in her pocket, Miner wrote.
Preliminary hearings — where a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence for the cases to move forward — are tentatively set for this (Thursday) morning for Garrison and on Friday afternoon for Malone.
Miner wrote that investigators in Powell and Bismarck were planning to follow up on the case.