Purse thief suspect nabbed

The Island County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is prosecuting a case in which the alleged victim of an identity theft happens to be a former deputy prosecutor who had filed a claim against the office and ultimately won a $300,000 settlement.

Prosecutors charged 29-year-old Oak Harbor resident Jason Bowen in Island County Superior Court July 16 with identity theft in the second degree. He pleaded not guilty Aug. 13.

Last March, Amy Dempsey, a 34-year-old former deputy prosecutor, reported that she had parked her car at Rocky Point on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and that someone had shattered a window with a rock, stealing her purse from inside, according to a report by former Oak Harbor Police Officer Daniel French.

It turned out that three of her credit cards had been used at a convenience store on Highway 20.

Officers were able to access a digital camera at the store and found that the driver of a tan Chevrolet pickup with a canopy and the driver of a blue Buick Century were the ones who used the cards.

The driver of the truck was identified as Bowen, French wrote.

Officers went to Bowen’s apartment the same day. They were told he wasn’t home, but caught him running from the area, the report states. They searched him and found an Albertsons card and a Pet Smart gift card addressed to “Amy” in his pocket, court documents show.

Bowen told the officer that a friend gave him the credit card he used to fill up his truck with gas, as well as the Albertsons card and gift card, the report states.

Dempsey filed a claim for damages against the Prosecutor’s Office and Island County last January, claiming that Prosecutor Greg Banks pressured her to publicly support him in the last election and unlawfully terminated her. The Washington Counties Risk Pool, which is essentially the county’s insurance company, settled the case June 30 for $300,000.

In addition, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown confirmed that Bowen is considered a suspect in a rash of purse-stealing car prowls on North Whidbey this summer. In June alone, more than 30 cars parked at parks and other somewhat-secluded spots were broken into. The prowler usually broke a window and took a purse that was in plain view.

If convicted of the charge, Bowen could face a standard sentencing range of four months to a year in jail.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

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