City councilman faces tough legal battle

Port Orchard Councilman Tye Moore faces a tough uphill battle against charges he committed forgery and theft in allegedly diverting funds from a business partnership to pay for personal items and Moore’s political campaign, prosecutors say.

Moore, a first-term councilman, and his wife, Elizabeth, were arraigned Friday on the charges brought by their ex-business partners, Don and Debra Aldridge, who provided financing for their joint home construction venture, Northwest Construction Services.

The Moores appeared before Judge Russell W. Hartman, who did not arrest them but required they remain in Washington and make no contact with the Aldridges. The Moores pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Tye Moore said in an interview last week he believes Debra Aldridge’s accusations are part of a “smear campaign” to ruin his political career.

Prosecutor Tyler Tornabene acknowledged the complexities of the case in outlining basic charges of second-degree theft and forgery against both Tye Moore and his wife.

But Tornabene told Hartman there also were seven additional forgery charges and 10 additional theft charges, along with numerous aggravating factors that could be brought against the couple.

The charges are known as “hold-back” charges — meaning prosecutors hold them back until they feel they might need them to strengthen their case.

In documents filed before the arraignment, Aldridge accused Moore of altering work invoices and writing checks for everything from a new truck to upgrades to his own home to funding last year’s political campaign.

But Moore said he believes the case involves just one invoice — for $688 in materials that were delivered to Moore’s private address instead of the site of a home Moore was building.

Moore said the invoice had faded and that he mistakenly wrote in the wrong address. “At the end of this, you’re not going to find a criminal. You’re going to find a guy who was overworked and who had poor bookkeeping,” Moore said.

But Tornabene contends there is much more to the case. In fact, typically the case isn’t turned over to the prosecutor until after the arraignment. But Tornabene said he’s been on the case for more than two weeks, compiling the evidence gathered through February interviews and through a search warrant that was conducted at Moore’s house.

“The probable-cause statement touched on such a small amount of the charges, not the case on a global level,” Tornabene said.

Tornabene said he also may ask the judge to look at economic factors regarding Moore’s campaign, including how much money might have allegedly been diverted from the business and how many victims were involved.

If all charges and aggravating factors end up being considered, Moore and his wife could face up to 10 years in prison and Moore could lose in seat on city council.

A preliminary hearing has been set for July 19, and the trial has been set for Aug. 28.

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