Kennewick duo jailed in extortion attempt

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writerSeptember 11, 2010 

KENNEWICK -- Two years after an 8mm tape with explicit images was stolen in a Kennewick burglary, the victim received a DVD copy and a demand for money, police said.

Instead of getting cash, the two suspects ended up in jail, said Detective Ryan Kelly.

Scott Sylvester, 42, and Melody Swett, 54, both of Kennewick, were arrested Thursday and booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of first-degree extortion and threats.

The explicit tape was stolen in February 2008 during a burglary and the victim received the DVD copy and a letter in early July, Kelly said.

The letter demanded a large sum of money to prevent the suspects from distributing the video on the internet and to area businesses, he said.

The suspects wanted the victim to leave the cash under a specific rock along the Columbia River.

But the victim contacted police, who then drafted a letter telling the suspects the money wasn't going to be left under a rock, Kelly said.

An arrangement was made to meet at a business with instructions to drop off the original video in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash, Kelly said.

On Thursday, detectives set up surveillance as Swett contacted the victim, who police did not identify, and exchanged a plastic bag with a video in it for a bag containing what was supposed to be money, Kelly said.

Swett was arrested and detectives watching the business also identified and arrested Sylvester as an accomplice.

Investigators later searched Sylvester's home on the 700 block of East Ninth Avenue and recovered evidence, including the letter written by the victim that was left by the river.

Pasco man's SUV, dog stolen at gas station

A Pasco man is looking for help finding a service dog that was stolen along with his SUV from a gas station at the King City truck stop.

Stan Harrington, 56, said he was with his girlfriend, Mary Brocher, 54, at the Shell station at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when his SUV was stolen.

The suspect asked Brocher for a cigarette and apparently took the keys when she set them down to open the pack she had just purchased, then the man jumped in and drove off, Harrington said.

Inside the hunter green 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, was Brocher's dog, a 4-year-old miniature Doberman pinscher named Cookie. Harrington didn't know the license plate number because he had just bought the vehicle.

Harrington said Cookie is a trained service dog that provides protection and security for Brocher.

Also inside the SUV was about $3,000 worth of Harrington's construction tools.

Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call Pasco police.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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