(COLIN HAFFNER/Chewelah Independent)
THREATENING LETTERS: James Russell Bolton, Jr. accused of trying to steal $100K and faces five counts of extortion…
An arrest warrant was issued this past week in Stevens County Superior Court against James Russell Bolton, leader of the Stevens County Assembly, on five counts of extortion in the first degree and one count of attempted theft in the first degree. These stem from a bizarre set of events that began in February with multiple threatening letters left on properties in Stevens County by purported Mexican Cartels.
The string of events kicked off with the report of a threatening letter, found on a Stevens County property, that threatened the property owners if they did not allow the use of their property or pay a fee for protection. According to the report of Deputy Eric Peterson, the letter demanded $10,000 in cash or physical harm would be done to their family. The family reported to officers that they were instructed to leave the money in an envelope in their mailbox. Ultimately, they witnessed a white SUV stop at the mailbox and remove the envelope, which contained blue dye. They attempted to follow the SUV but could not keep up with it, though they furnished officers with a photo of the vehicle taken from a distance.
Later on the same day of the first report, a second report was made to the Stevens County Sheriff’s office from a separate person about receiving a similar letter stuck to one the caller’s trees.
The responding officer, Deputy Hank Stroisch, to both incidents made notes that he researched both the name and company that were attached to each note and found them to be attached to a singer from Mexico and a food distribution service in California.
A third report was made about two weeks later. This report stated they found the letter on the windshield of their car on Feb. 28 and the letter said “they were going to acquire their property unless they paid them $250,000 within 15 days,” also indicating the family receiving the letter would be taken and killed, along with their daughter and her children in California if they did not comply. At this time, based on conversations with the person making the third report, James “Russell” Bolton Jr. was first contacted in regard to the case. At this time, Bolton’s involvement focused more on the report that he and his wife had also recently received death threats by phone, though it was not initially thought to be related to the threatening letters. Bolton acknowledged receiving the threats but did not report them because “it is common in his work,” Bolton said.
Through the course of the interview with Bolton, it came out that two of those receiving letters were known by Bolton through Stevens County Assembly meetings which brought questioning around to someone potentially trying to damage the Assembly financially. Bolton did not believe this to be the case and that the Assembly had little to no money. His belief was that the threats to he and his wife were unrelated to the letters. However, Bolton had told numerous people that they needed to increase Assembly membership and donations or he would need to relocate and start over, according to interviews in the police reports. Roughly a month after the initial letters were reported, Bolton’s story took a turn for the dramatic. Bolton called back to report that he had been receiving a lot of threatening emails but could not furnish them when requested because his computer had been hacked and gotten a virus, the police report said. Additionally, Bolton claimed that he had been followed recently on his way home from Chewelah by a red Ford pickup, and the occupants of the truck yelled at him and ran him off the road. He could not get the license plate of the truck because it was covered by cardboard. Nearly two weeks later, detective Travis Frizzell, reported that he was contacted and told about an attack made by Bolton in which he “‘lost his mind’ and ‘tried to kill’,” another Assembly member while in Spokane.
According to the police report made by the attacked Assembly member, Bolton had pushed him down the stairs and while he tried to get up, Bolton restrained him and attempted to put a plastic bag around his head. It was reported that Bolton eventually stopped the assault and claimed that his wife had been kidnapped and someone was demanding $100,000 for her release.
The Assembly member stated that he secured the $100,000 by selling his stock portfolio because he did not want anything bad to happen to Bolton’s wife, but he began to question the validity of Bolton’s claim after a few days had gone by and he received emails from Bolton stating his wife had been released though the kidnappers were still awaiting payment, the report said. Two emails were provided by the Assembly member that he got from Bolton stating the need to follow through with the planned payment despite his wife being released. One email read in part “3 perps showed up at my office after I returned to Chewelah…I informed them of our arrangement… They released K, but await the transaction to soldify the deal. After that, they assure us nothing else will transpire. They did rough me up a bit, but I’m fine…”
Detective Frizzell reported he conducted further interviews and those led him to check vehicles registered to Bolton in which he learned Bolton had a 2013, white Ford Edge registered in Stevens County. He then checked footage provided to him by the initial reporter receiving a threatening letter and determined the vehicle picking up a letter from that person’s mailbox looked similar to a Ford Edge, though Frizzell noted it was impossible to say they were the same due to the quality of the video. Frizzell concluded in his report that “Bolton has personal knowledge of all three victims as they are all members of the Stevens County Assembly, in which Bolton runs… I believe there is probable cause that James R. Bolton had left the letters… that made threats and demanded money, and probable cause that James R. Bolton fabricated a story about his wife being kidnapped in an attempt to steal by deception $100,000…”
Bolton had ran for Stevens County Sheriff in 2010 but was eliminated in the primary election after receiving only about 13 percent of the vote.
Bolton has not yet been apprehended by authorities at press time.