Warrant issued for ex-restaurateur Marple

By Kristin M. Kraemer, Herald staff writerJune 5, 2009 

KENNEWICK -- A former Kennewick restaurateur has been charged with 15 counts for printing his own fake checks and cash.

The newest case adds to the growing legal troubles of Eric Steven Marple, whose alleged at-home scheme caught the attention of police during the search for fugitive Chancey Howard.

Marple is accused of letting Howard stay at his home during the manhunt and giving him a Michigan driver's license with the wanted man's picture but another name.

Marple also failed to make scheduled court hearings May 28 and Thursday.

A $100,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest in the new case, which was filed Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court.

Marple, 30, was the chef and owner of the now-closed Marples Restaurant in Kennewick. He already is charged in Benton County with possession of methamphetamine for an April 20 search of his West Ninth Place home.

That case had been set for trial July 6, but Marple, who was out on his personal recognizance, missed a court date. A bench warrant was issued in the case.

On Wednesday, Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor charged Marple with seven counts of forgery, six counts of unlawful possession of fictitious identification and one count each of second-degree possession of stolen property and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Then on Thursday, Marple was expected to enter a plea in an unrelated case with two counts of unlawful issuance of bank checks. The hearing was continued one week when he didn't show.

In that case, filed May 20, prosecutors allege Marple cashed a check Jan. 1 at WinCo Foods in Kennewick. The $726.42 check was written to Marple from the closed Bank of America account of Marples Restaurant.

On March 6, he allegedly went to QuickCash in Kennewick and tried to get money for a $764.12 check made out to him from "The Coffee Bean & Tea Shop," which had an account with GBC International Bank. Employees refused to cash the check because they could not verify the validity.

GBC officials told Kennewick police they've never had an account with that name. In an interview with police, Marple admitted to printing the check but claimed the shop "is a business run by Marple's World Cuisine, which is a family business," court documents said.

The Washington Department of Licensing also reported that "Marple's World Cuisine" closed Oct. 31, 2008, and that there is no business license for "The Coffee Bean & Tea Shop."

During the April search of Marple's home, which resulted in the newest charges, detectives found 35 counterfeit $100 bills, 18 counterfeit $50 bills and 78 fake $20 bills, according to court documents.

Many of the bills reportedly had the same serial number and some were only printed with the front or the back side. Detectives, who also found some bills still drying from clothespins, claim that Marple said the bills "were for novelty purposes."

Multiple fake checks were found in the home, including one for $889.77 payable to Marple on the account of "Marple's World Cuisine and Catering, Eric Marple Chef Owner," documents said. Officers checked with a representative of the bank, who said that Marple's account had never been activated.

Another grouping of checks payable to Marple were all numbered 5623 and written on April 17.

"The checks were purportedly written on accounts held by the Walla Walla Country Club, 'US Bank Walla Walla office' and BurgerKing," court documents said. Each business reportedly confirmed for police that the checks were fraudulent.

Police also seized two credit cards in another man's name and an $822.38 check to Marple from "Parelli's Bistro, Inc. Special Events." When police called the telephone number printed on the check, they reached a Spanish-speaking family -- not a business -- who had never heard of Marple or "Parelli's Bistro," documents said.

In addition to the forged Howard driver's license, officers located five other licenses with Marple's picture but different names.

* Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com

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