News

Trial of Great Estates owner delayed

Alice Simpson waives right to speedy trial; now set for January.

The trial of a Port Orchard woman accused of stealing people’s valuables instead of selling them as she promised has been postponed a month, according to Kitsap County Superior Court documents.

Alice S. Simpson, 53, owner of the closed consignment shop Great Estates, was scheduled to stand trial next Monday on at least one count of first-degree theft. Her trial has now been continued and rescheduled for Jan. 5.

The lone charge of theft stemmed from allegations by Port Orchard resident Chuck McGuire, who told the Port Orchard Police Department that the defendant scammed him out of a $17,000 photograph.

McGuire said he gave his Edward Curtis “Gold Tone” photograph to Simpson to sell last fall. At the time, Simpson was operating a consignment business on Bay Street — called both Great Estates and Cornucopia Ailisia — which has since closed.

“The whole procedure was a scam I fell for,” said McGuire, explaining that months later when he asked Simpson to either return his photograph or pay him the money it was worth, she refused. Then, in April of this year, McGuire says she admitted to him that she sold the photograph for $9,000 but no longer had the money.

McGuire then filed a report with the POPD, and Det. E.J. Martin began investigating his claims. According to Martin’s probable cause statement, a background check of both Simpson and Great Estates revealed “a number of cases” filed against her, including one that was investigated by the Bainbridge Island Police Department in 2001 and included nine victims that accused Simpson of similar actions.

Since then, more victims have come forward, including another Port Orchard man who filed a statement in October claiming that he gave Simpson more than $600 worth of items to sell. He claims he never received payment for them, and soon saw his items for sale at a nearby business downtown.

Poulsbo resident Susan McFarland said her loss is closer to several thousand dollars.

“I gave her 12 crates of items,” McFarland said, explaining that she found out about Simpson through a magazine article and first met her while the defendant had an office in Silverdale. “She was very helpful and very nice.”

However, McFarland said when she realized her items were not being sold and asked for either money or the items back, Simpson stopped answering her phone.

“I really regret ever giving them to her,” she said, admitting that perhaps she should have been suspicious sooner, but “(Simpson) was so nice and so pleasant.”

Now, McFarland said she is struggling to get by on Social Security and infrequent contract work, and hopes to see Simpson stand trial.

“I’m just hoping to get a judgement,” she said. “I doubt I’ll get any of my things back or money, but she must be stopped.”

Martin said his office has received “a number of complaints” from people claiming that their antiques or other valuable collectables were taken to Simpson, but she failed to either compensate the owner or return the items.

Martin said Simpson closed her business in July, but that she announced her plan to conduct sales online from home.

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