A Walla Walla man allegedly stole a phone and credit cards from a gas station and was en route to Tri-Cities with the cards when he was arrested by Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office deputies Friday, April 16, according to court records.
John S. Gertsch, 31, who said he lives at Christian Aid Center in Walla Walla, was accused of second-degree stolen property possession, illegally having someone else’s identification, third-degree driving with a suspended license and second-degree theft. He had his first appearance in Walla Walla County Superior Court on Tuesday, April 20, as Judge Brandon L. Johnson read the list of charges.
Prosecutors requested a $10,000 bail, but Gertsch was released on his own recognizance and was ordered by Johnson to the county jail’s supervision program.
Gertsch began to protest when prosecutors said he’d missed his previous court date on Monday because he was “coming down” from a high.
“The court is about to release you on your own recognizance,” Johnson said in return. “Unless you’d like to argue more?”
Prosecutors said Gertsch has a history of drug use and needs to get treatment.
Under the supervision program, Gertsch will have random drug tests performed.
According to court documents, Gertsch allegedly took a phone Friday afternoon from the counter at the Chevron station at 7 E. Rose St. that had credit cards and other personal items attached to it.
Walla Walla police first investigated and eventually found the phone discarded in a parking lot in the 600 block of Whitman Street. Police learned Gertsch was headed to Tri-Cities and alerted other area law enforcement.
Gertsch was pulled over by Sheriff’s Office deputies at a Circle K gas station at 14813 Dodd Road, Burbank.
Deputies reportedly found the stolen phone case with three credit cards and an identification card belonging to the victim in the car Gertsch was driving.
Gertsch has a recent criminal history and has been arrested multiple times, including cases of forgery, impersonating an officer and drug-related charges all in 2020.
Gertsch pleaded guilty in those cases, according to the Washington Courts database, and was released from jail on probation and community service orders.