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Former Oak Harbor man wanted on escape from custody charge

John Balash III  - Courtesy photo
John Balash III
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A 44-year-old former Oak Harbor resident with a lengthy criminal history is wanted on a no-bail warrant for skipping out on community custody, court documents indicate.

Prosecutors charged John Balash III in Island County Superior Court last month with escape from community custody, a felony charge. Judge Alan Hancock approved a no-bail warrant for Balash’s arrest.

Robert Diekman, a community corrections officer in Oak Harbor, said Balash is also wanted on a Department of Corrections warrant for failing to report to the department as required under the conditions of his community custody, which is basically the same as probation.

Diekman said it’s rare that he asks the prosecutor’s office to charge someone with escape from community custody, but he did in this case because of Balash’s long history of not following community custody conditions.

Balash is on community custody because of a second-degree assault conviction in King County. He provoked a fight with a man who was talking with a female acquaintance and stabbed the man in the lungs and arms several times, according to Diekman’s report.

After getting out of prison, Balash was placed on community custody and ordered to report to the Department of Corrections office. But Balash has consistently refused to report to the office, resulting in six Department of Corrections warrants for his arrest in 2007 and 2008, according to court documents. Then last September, Balash did not report as ordered to the Oak Harbor office of the Department of Corrections; he is currently a fugitive from justice, Diekman wrote.

Balash has been arrested more than 57 times and has 49 prior convictions, including five  felonies. He is rated by the Department of Corrections as a “high violent offender,” which means he’s considered a high risk to reoffend, according to court documents.

While Balash is officially listed as an Oak Harbor resident, Diekman said his connection to Oak Harbor is somewhat tenuous. Balash lived in Oak Harbor with a relative for a brief period, but has lived and gotten into trouble with the law mainly in the King County area.

Anyone who knows of Balash’s whereabouts should call 911.

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