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Former Sequim man faces 24 counts

On July 15, Clallam County prosecutors charged a former Sequim man, Matthew Ovist, with six counts of theft in the first degree and 18 counts of money laundering in connection to nearly $230,000 in reportedly stolen cash.

Ovist, 37, now of Albany, Ore., was released on bail July 24 when he appeared in court after a warrant was issued for his arrest the same day charges were filed.

The theft charges stem from Ovist’s alleged business interactions with his uncle in California. Prosecutors allege, based on a Sequim Police investigation, that Ovist secured $70,000 from his uncle in early 2006 to exchange for a piece of property in Sequim, which Ovist did not own.

Ovist reportedly tried to purchase the property from the landowner, but the deal fell through and Ovist reportedly never paid back the $70,000, which was wired from California directly into Ovist’s girlfriend’s checking account.

Ovist also was building a home for his uncle on a separate piece of property at around the same time Ovist reportedly told his uncle the real estate transaction, which had fallen through, was being delayed.

Ovist never fully constructed the home and ended up leaving the area in April 2007 with the home only partially complete. In order to fill contractor orders, Ovist was listed on his uncle’s home loan.

Ovist allegedly withdrew funds totaling $44,715 from the home loan, which he never relayed to contracted professionals that worked on the home or building supply companies.

Ovist also allegedly had four blank checks from his uncle in case of a building emergency, which he reportedly cashed into $115,100.

The four checks totaling $115,100, the $70,000 real estate payment and the $44,715 in home loan withdrawals total $229,815 in allegedly stolen money.

Sequim Police detectives reviewed financial records of those involved and were able to determine most of the funds were taken out to “cash” or to Ovist or his girlfriend.

Ovist reportedly spent a great deal of the money at 7 Cedars Casino as well as several other casinos in Washington. Sequim Police were able to find that during the first six months of 2006 alone Ovist allegedly spent more than $31,000 at four separate casinos.

Ovist’s reported actions to relay money from his uncle, through his girlfriend, sometimes through his company and into cash were considered money laundering by Clallam County prosecutors and each action resulted in a laundering charge.

Ovist has a trial date of Oct. 6 and will first make an appearance on Sept. 11. During his July 24 appearance, he pleaded not guilty to the 24 charges.

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