Convicted sex offender pleads innocent to indecent exposure

A convicted sex offender pleaded innocent Wednesday to allegations that he exposed himself to a man in the Kennewick General Hospital emergency room and made inappropriate advances to female employees.

Melvin Dean Rode, 49, is set for trial Oct. 3 in Benton County Superior Court on one count of indecent exposure.

The charge includes an allegation of aggravating circumstances that his criminal history includes misdemeanor convictions that would not count if he is convicted, giving him a sentence that is too lenient.

The West Richland man has two prior convictions for indecent exposure, in addition to failing to register as a sex offender, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and committing lewd conduct for a total 13 convictions.

In the new case, a 43-year-old man reported to Kennewick police that he was sitting in the waiting room on Aug. 5 when he noticed Rode masturbating.

The witness said he was called out of the waiting room and when he returned a short time later, Rode started touching himself again, documents said. The man told police he was very alarmed but wasn't sure if other people in the room saw what was happening.

A nurse told officers that Rode made several inappropriate advances toward female employees, court documents said.

Rode is being held in the Benton County jail on $25,000 bail. A hearing is set next Wednesday for a judge to consider lowering that amount.

At the time of his arrest at his West Richland home, Rode was classified as a Level 3 sex offender, meaning he is considered highly likely to reoffend. In 2007, he was sentenced to three months in jail for exposing himself on a transit bus in front of a teenage girl.

Benton City man faces prison on burglary counts

A Benton City man faces prison time for admitting that he broke into a number of residential outbuildings near his home.

Monty Craig Baldomino, 22, pleaded guilty to nine counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree attempted burglary.

Baldomino is asking for a Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative so he can get help for his drug addiction while serving a shorter prison term. An evaluation must first be done to see if he would benefit from the program.

Prosecutors plan to recommend a four-year, three-month prison term, according to court documents.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 14.

The burglaries and attempted break-ins on North River Road that happened over a couple of months went unsolved until pawn shop records linked Baldomino to the crimes.

Baldomino was arrested July 2 by Benton County sheriff's deputies investigating a string of burglaries since May 29. Deputies contacted a pawn shop looking for stolen merchandise and found Baldomino had pawned several stolen items there, court documents said.

Baldomino reportedly told them he sold items on seven occasions to four pawn shops. About $1,500 worth of stolen property was found during a search, documents said.