Following a months-long investigation, Kitsap County prosecutors filed charges recently against Jesse Woods, a 51-year-old man who police say operated an organized crime ring out of his Bremerton house.
According to police, the criminal enterprise saw Woods deposit thousands of dollars worth of stolen checks, print counterfeit money, traffick stolen property, sell illegal drugs and manipulate a handful of subordinates whom he allegedly compensated using cuts of stolen property, stolen financial information and drugs.
State prosecutor Benjamin Turner filed charging documents in Kitsap on September 12 accusing Woods of 25 criminal counts including leading organized crime, identity theft, forgery, trafficking in stolen property, delivering methamphetamine and witness tampering.
The investigation began on October 12 when Bremerton police received a complaint of stolen checks from a woman who said the checks were taken from her home in Indianola. She noticed the theft after fraudulent deposits totaling over $600 were made from her account.
The checks were issued to Jesse Woods and deposited by another person who worked for Woods, police said.
Police said the person worked for Woods as a subordinate. She later told police in an interview that Woods “is a very manipulative person and makes himself out to be an innocent person,” a BPD officer wrote in a statement filed last week with the charging documents.
Days later, a routine welfare check turned up drugs and forgery documents in a car in front Woods’ residence, leading to a raid, court documents say.
A BPD officer was dispatched to Nipsic Avenue on October 25 after an anonymous caller reported a man unconscious in a vehicle in front of Woods’ residence. The officer made contact with the man, observing “drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle,” the report states. She placed the man under arrest and while doing so noticed “a check book hanging out of [his] pocket, which she noted belonged to another man,” police said. Later the officer determined the checkbook belonged to a dead person, police said.
A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up heroin and “speciality linen paper,” the report states, as well as copies of currency “in the following denominations: $5, $10, $20 and $100.”
Police interrogated the man, who said he worked for Woods, and was on occasion paid in methamphetamine for being his driver, but did not know certain specifics about where they were going, or for what purpose, an officer wrote, something “consistent with the structure of organized crime.”
“Not all subordinate participants or accomplices know all of the aims, specifics or outcomes of the criminal activity but only the leader, in this case Woods, manages the bigger picture.”
Based upon the information gleaned during that interrogation, police said, a warrant was issued for a search of Woods’ home. Due to the suspected presence of firearms, a Kitsap County regional SWAT team was deployed.
A police report dated October 26 from a BPD detective states 51 items were seized in the raid. The detective noted “a printed $20 bill” and “three printed $100 bills,” as well as “multiple checks belonging to people other than Woods or that reside in the house, blank check printing paper, several VISA/Mastercards not in Woods’ name as well as several bank statements in the name of people not related.”
Woods was arrested on forgery charges and booked on $50,000 bail.
But the forgery charges would be just the beginning of Woods’ legal jeopardy, as police continued their investigation and charges countinued to mount.
On April 12, police interviewed a witness booked in Kitsap County jail whom they said was involved in the crime ring. The witness told police she had received software on a flash drive used for creating checks. “She said she received the software sometime in October, 2017,” the report states.
The witness said she was trained by another person, not Woods, on how to make counterfeit checks at the house on Nipsic Avenue, according to police. She allegedly said she opened a business under the name “Morning Wood, LLC” for the purposes of receiving checks.
Police say Woods directed people to go “mail boxing,” or to steal mail in order to glean bank account information, which would then be used to print on counterfeit checks.
“There was a whole network of people,” one witness said, according to police. “We all intertwined together, and it all led back to him.”
On July 5, police interviewed a witness who said she was told she would receive $50 if she cashed a stolen check at Money Tree. She told police she never made contact with Woods but was given instructions from others at the house. The witness “broke down crying” during the interview, an officer wrote, and admitted “she believed something was going on with the check” and said “she should have known better.”
On August 14, police spoke to a witness they said worked for Woods, who told a similar story.
Directed by Woods to deposit stolen checks into ATM machines, the witness was instructed to withdraw the maximum amount allowed – $200 – and keep $20 for their efforts, police said.
The witness called the Nipsic Avenue home a “trap house” where “people bring [Woods] stolen goods in exchange for money, drugs, place to use drugs, or a place to sleep,” the report states.
One witness said Woods held drugs over a subordinate’s head, “almost in a way to control her,” the report states, as a “puppeteer.”
Washington deputy prosecuting attorney Benjamin Turner charged Woods with leading organized crime in the first degree, a felony, alleging Woods did intentionally “organize, manage, direct, supervise, or finance” three or more people “with the intent to engage in a pattern of criminal profiteering activity.” Police said at least seven people were involved in the crime effort.
Woods was arrested on $250,000 bail and is currently being held in Kitsap County jail. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.