Accused Clinton car thief claims vehicle was ‘given’ to him

A night cruising around in a stolen car has left a Clinton man facing up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine, according to court documents.

George Mark Whitehead, 30, was charged in Island County Superior Court March 14 with one count of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Island County Sheriff’s deputies took Whitehead into custody earlier that day on Scatchet Head Road following a traffic stop. He was one of four people found in a 1995 Toyota Celica.

The car, along with firearms, was reported missing in an earlier residential burglary.

“The suspect, George Whitehead, had reportedly burglarized the residence where the vehicle was taken, had stolen firearms from the residence and may be armed,” wrote Deputy Shawn Warwick, the arresting officer in court documents.

According to Warwick’s account, police received reports that a car matching the stolen vehicle’s description had been seen driving erratically near Bayview Road. Officers began searching the area and caught up with the car at the intersection of Scatchet Head and Swede Hill roads.

The occupants were ordered out at gunpoint.

Whitehead, who was not driving at the time, denied stealing the vehicle.

In separate accounts, the other three occupants — a man and two women — reported they’d all been picked up by Whitehead the night before at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Snohomish County. They spent hours driving around Tulalip before eventually heading to Whidbey.

Whitehead reportedly drove until a short time before they were pulled over when he and the male passenger switched.

All three passengers said they didn’t know the car was stolen until they were alerted by officers.

Two claimed that Whitehead told them that the person’s who name was on the registration had “given” him the car, and another said he claimed to have bought the vehicle.

Whitehead was charged in December with possession of heroin in an unrelated incident. According to Island County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Darren Crownover’s incident report, he had a felony Department of Corrections escape warrant out for his arrest when he was recognized sitting in a parked vehicle off McKay Drive. Crownover said Whitehead ran from officers and tried to ditch a backpack. It was later searched and found to contain .10 gram of heroin.

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