Convicted ID thief faces mail theft charges

Donaldson allegedly 'washed' the checks, changed the amounts, cashed them

Elvina Ernea Donaldson, June 15, 2015 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)
Elvina Ernea Donaldson, June 15, 2015 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A woman with prior convictions for forgery and identity theft faces charges related to stealing mail from people throughout Portland.

Elvina Ernea Donaldson allegedly stole mail with checks inside and with the help of associates stole more than $30,000.

Among the mail stolen, police said, is tax information, city of Portland payments for Art Tax and medical bills. Authorities said they have identified 120 victims.

Elvina Ernea Donaldson at her court apperance on mail theft charges, June 15, 2015 (KOIN)
Elvina Ernea Donaldson at her court apperance on mail theft charges, June 15, 2015 (KOIN)

Donaldson, 34, was arrested in a van at NE 83rd and Killingsworth. A search warrant at the hotel where she stayed at 113th and Sandy turned up evidence of drug use, police told KOIN 6 News.

Additional evidence of ID theft and mail theft was also found, officials said.

Officials said Donaldson and others would alter the checks in a process where they would change the payee and the amount, and then cash the check.

Donaldson is expected to make her first court appearance Monday afternoon to face 10 counts each of aggravated identity theft and receipt of stolen mail.

When she was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center, she was charged with 97 counts: 47 for mail theft, 48 for ID theft and one each for ID theft and aggravated ID theft.

Court records show Donaldson is homeless and reportedly has three children. She previously has been convicted of 6 identity theft felonies, 2 forgeries and 2 thefts.

Her bail was set over the weekend at $515,000, court records show. Jail staff released Donaldson to a Multnomah County program called “Pre-Trial Services.” The program is run by the Department of Community Justice. Nearly every inmate who is arrested is screened by court staff. The court staff identified “risk factors” for Donaldson that include the nature of the charges, the number of charges, and her criminal history.

Had she not been released, Donaldson would have had to post a minimum of $51,500 in order to be released.

Court staff decided to release Donaldson based on various factors, according to DCJ spokesperson Jessica Morkert-Shibley.

“We’re looking at whether she’s going to pose a physical harm to the community, we’re looking at her criminal history,” said DCJ spokesperson Jessica Morkert-Shibley. “Does she have a history of violent crime? We’re looking at whether she’s a flight risk, what are her ties to the community.”

In Donaldson’s case Morkert-Shibley said that the staff determined that she did not pose a flight risk and did not pose any immediate physical harm to the public. People charged with violent crimes are usually considered high risk and are likely denied the opportunity to be released to PRS, Morkert-Shibley said. She said that the goal of the program is the help balance the jail population.

The US Postal Service has tips to protect your mail from being stolen. If you believe your mail may be being stolen, you can contact the US Postal Inspection Service and file a complaint.

KOIN 6 News reporter Brent Weisberg contributed to this report.

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