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Car wash scam suspect appears in court

The Columbian: Car wash scam suspect appears in court

Mallory Ewart, who allegedly organized a car wash scam to bail boyfriend Antonio Cellestine out of jail, appeared in Clark County District Court Wednesday morning. She faces a charge of third-degree theft by deception.

By Laura McVicker
Columbian Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vancouver, WA — Mallory Ewart said the car wash would benefit the family of hit-and-run victim Gordon Patterson. Police allege that the money actually went to help bail the suspect — her boyfriend — out of jail.

Outside court Wednesday morning, Ewart’s attorney said his client’s intentions really were pure.

“Her position is that she did not do the car wash for the defendant in this case, and it wasn’t a theft,” said attorney Charles Buckley, hired by Ewart and her family.

Ewart, 18, of Vancouver made her first appearance in Clark County District Court on Wednesday to face a charge of third-degree theft by deception. A trial date will be set at a hearing Feb. 16.

Buckley already entered a not guilty plea on Ewart’s behalf last month.

Ewart did not speak before Judge Vernon Schreiber and left the courtroom as soon as her hearing was over.

Patterson, 50, was a popular technology teacher at Hudson’s Bay High School. He was struck by a vehicle and killed at 4 p.m. Sept. 15 while bicycling home from work along Northeast St. Johns Road.

Antonio E. Cellestine, 18, faces felony hit-and-run charges in connection with Patterson’s death.

Ewart’s MySpace page describes a life as anything but criminal. The page says the former Bay student is an aspiring singer and guitarist who has performed at a number of regional events, including the Clark County Fair, Harvest Days and Portland Teen Idol in 2008.

“I’m thinking of attending an art institute for college,” Ewart wrote on her MySpace page. “But we’ll see where my music takes me.”

“A lot of people tell me that I sound like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood,” she added.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by deputy city prosecutor Kevin McClure, Ewart organized a car wash Sept. 27 in the parking lot of Benny’s Rod and Custom Pizza Cafe, 4219 N.E. St. Johns Road. Several friends helped her hold signs and yell to passing cars to “Support the Pattersons.”

The all-day car wash drew between 30 and 40 cars, many of which belonged to parishioners of Patterson’s church, First Evangelical Church. The church’s pastor had made an announcement to the congregation about the car wash.

Investigators were tipped that the fundraiser might have been a scam after reviewing a taped jail conversation between Cellestine and Ewart, who was described in the affidavit as his girlfriend. According to the affidavit, Ewart allegedly said “she got around $500 from the car wash … which she was applying toward his bail.”

Police later discovered that church members had donated $365 during the car wash, but that Patterson’s family only received $195, the affidavit said. Investigators believed there may have been more missing money.

Cellestine remains in the Clark County Jail. His bail was revoked after he was arrested on narcotics and alcohol possession charges after reportedly throwing a Halloween party at his apartment.

He is set to go to trial Feb. 1.

Ewart was not taken into custody in connection to her charge.