STOCK: Criminal

A Walla Walla man linked to a string of commercial burglaries in fall of 2018 and fled the state has been returned and will face charges in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Robert J. Frates, 36, had pleaded not guilty Nov. 13, 2018, to three counts of second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, three counts of third-degree malicious mischief and two counts of third-degree theft.

But he fled the state and in 2019 was arrested in Kootenai County, Idaho, on several drug charges and sentenced in December 2019.

Walla Walla County petitioned Idaho for temporary custody through the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, and Frates was booked into the Walla Walla County Jail on Tuesday. His bond is $101,600.

Frates and Tisha A. Place, 31, of Walla Walla, were arrested Oct. 30, 2018, in connection with burglaries of 19 local businesses starting in late September 2018, according to a probable cause statement.

Place pleaded guilty March 4, 2019, and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, which were suspended in lieu of two years probation and other conditions.

Frates was conditionally released December 2018 pending trial September 2019, but he was arrested twice after that, and a warrant was issued on new charges in August 2019 in connection with a burglary at Livit Coffee on Isaacs Avenue.

In October 2019, Frates was arrested on several drug charges in Kootenai County, Idaho, and eventually sentenced in December 2019 for controlled substance possession.

Frates has a long criminal history.

He was released in 2017 in Walla Walla after serving time in the Washington State Penitentiary for multiple felonies. He has 26 felony convictions, not including his recent ones in Idaho, including involvement in 20 burglaries in the Spokane area, according to Walla Walla police.

If he is convicted in Walla Walla County, he will be returned to Idaho to complete his sentence there before serving his local sentence, Walla Walla County Prosecutor Jim Nagle said.

Emily Thornton can be reached at or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.