Convicted consignment shop owner receives jail time

Alice Simpson once owned Great Estates in Bremerton.

Former consignment shop owner Alice S. Simpson, accused of stealing several thousand dollars worth of people’s valuables, will serve nearly a month in jail after being sentenced in Kitsap County Superior Court Monday afternoon.

“There really should be punishment in jail for a crime of this nature,” said Judge Russell Hartman, explaining he believed Port Orchard resident Charles McGuire’s account of how he gave Simpson a very valuable photograph to sell nearly two years ago but never received payment for it.

McGuire eventually reported the crime to the Port Orchard Police Department (POPD), which led to Simpson being charged with one count of first-degree theft. After learning of her arrest, several more victims came forward with similar stories, said Deputy Prosecutor Jay Wilkinson.

Simpson is the former owner of the defunct consignment shop Great Estates, which, at one time, was located off State Route 303 in East Bremerton.

Simpson pleaded guilty to the theft charge in January. Wilkinson recommended she serve 25 days, saying he had no objection to her serving that time outside of jail.

Defense attorney Craig Kibbe said he did not believe his client had the “intent to commit fraud,” but instead was suffering with “physical and mental problems” and “didn’t, perhaps, keep good records.”

He went on to say that Simpson had “taken responsibility for her mismanagement” and she was “no longer engaged in this type of business.”

Simpson then addressed Judge Hartman, saying she “understood the distress (my) inability to manage a business caused,” but that she “certainly never intended to take people’s property.

“A lot of things were affecting my judgement and I lost track of things,” she continued. “A lot of things happened that I can’t explain.”

At least three of Simpson’s victims appeared in court Monday, though McGuire was the only one to address Judge Hartman.

“Never in my life have I dealt with a thief like her,” McGuire said, requesting she be sentenced to “hard time in the county jail,” though even that sentence would in “no way be adequate for the stress she has caused.”

Former Bainbridge Island resident Judy Harstone said she also was a victim of Simpson and filed a statement with Judge Hartman.

“Simpson clearly has established a pattern of preying on vulnerable people, many of whom had recently suffered the death of a parent or spouse ... and she betrayed that trust to the tune of many thousands of dollars,” Hartstone wrote. “She has demonstrated no remorse and has continued to steal people’s money and possessions with no compunction, and perhaps the time she spends in jail at the very least will serve to prevent additional victims for the duration of her incarceration.”

Hartman agreed that jail time was necessary. “I don’t think jail alternative is appropriate in this particular case,” he said, sentencing Simpson to 25 days in the Kitsap County Jail.

After conferring with his client, defense attorney Craig Kibbe said Simpson was not prepared to enter custody that afternoon, and requested she have time to arrange care for several animals and to secure medications for herself.

Hartman agreed to delay custody for one week, and ordered Simpson back to court March 16 at 1:30 p.m.

“I want you to understand that if you do not appear, a warrant will be issued for your arrest, and additional charges will be set against you,” he said.

Wilkinson said Simpson had appeared for every prior court date, and he did not believe she was a flight risk.

Simpson then exited the courtroom, where she was approached by two victims.

Port Orchard resident Beatrice Flatau, 81, said she had given Simpson $2,000 to $3,000 worth of items to sell that included vases and cups decorated in 24-karat gold and a Lincoln Rocker, but she had only been paid $1,000 by Simpson.

When Flatau asked Simpson about her payments as the defendant sat on a bench outside the courtroom, Simpson began screaming obscenities at Flatau and the elderly woman left.

A moment later, McGuire exited the courtroom and saw Simpson, who greeted him.

“Told you I’d nail you,” he said in return.

As part of her plea agreement, Wilkinson said Simpson has “agreed to pay $18,000 in restitution to eight victims.”

Such restitution is typically handled by assigning defendants to make monthly payments.

Simpson was charged with theft last year after McGuire told POPD the defendant scammed him out of a $17,000 photograph.

McGuire said he gave his Edward Curtis “Gold Tone” photograph to Simpson to sell in the fall of 2007. At the time, Simpson was operating a consignment business on Bay Street called both Great Estates and Cornucopia Ailisia, which has since closed.

POPD Det. E.J. Martin began investigating his claims and soon discovered both Simpson and Great Estates had “a number of cases” filed against them, including one that was investigated by the Bainbridge Island Police Department in 2001 and included nine victims that accused Simpson of similar actions.

Martin said his office received “a number of complaints” from people claiming their antiques or other valuable collectables were taken to Simpson, but she failed to either compensate the owner or return the items.

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