An Anchorage couple who have become a target of frustrations over rampant car theft has been slapped with federal firearms charged that could land each of them in prison for a decade.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged Shane Muse, 29, and Crystal Tui, 25, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and knowingly providing a firearm to a felon.
The charges stem from a Saturday incident in which prosecutors say Muse fought a Department of Corrections pretrial enforcement officer sent to arrest him for breaking his ankle monitoring restrictions. At the time of that scuffle, he was out on bail for a previous, separate state firearms charge.
Muse and his girlfriend have each faced car theft charges in the past but were released on bail only to be charged with new crimes.
Federal prosecutors have said they are strategically charging people involved with Anchorage car thefts with firearms offenses as a way to "combine resources to address Anchorage's car theft problem."
In Anchorage media accounts, crime tracking social media groups and blogs, Muse, 29, and Tui, 25, have been held up as an example of what critics call a "catch and release" policy for car theft suspects.
Television channel KTUU called the couple "repeat customers" of the criminal justice system. Conservative blogger Suzanne Downing tagged them as "lawbreakers on the rinse and repeat cycle."
When Anchorage Assembly members Eric Croft and Dick Traini wrote a letter asking legislators to close a loophole that didn't allow judges to see out-of-state criminal records when setting bail, they cited a March incident in which Muse was caught by police driving a stolen car with a stolen, loaded gun in it.
In March, Anchorage District Attorney Richard Allen described Muse as one of the "top vehicle theft defendants" in the city.
"They are well known," said Tisha Victory, an administrator of the Anchorage Scanner Joe Facebook page, where more than 54,000 members discuss crime. Some members of the page see them as "prime examples of how the system is broken" and have tracked their arrests and releases, she said.
The incident that led to the federal charges happened Saturday, according to a federal affidavit. A Department of Corrections pretrial enforcement officer arrived at an apartment on East 26th Avenue, near the intersection of Boniface Parkway and Northern Lights Boulevard, around noon Saturday to arrest Muse for violating his bail conditions on a state charge — of illegally possessing as gun as a felon.
Muse, who was on ankle monitoring, had been outside of his house when he was supposed to be at home. The charges say Muse tried to fight the officers sent to arrest him and kept "reaching into his right pocket" for what turned out to be a loaded handgun. The gun had been stolen from an Anchorage resident's car on May 21, according to the charges.
Muse told police he had gotten the gun from Tui moments before the pre-trial enforcement officers showed up.
Tui told police she'd gotten the gun "from a friend," according to the charges.
She had been convicted of first-degree car theft in April, an affidavit in the federal case says.
The couple also faces new state charges related to the incident.
At his federal arraignment Wednesday, Muse, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit and long braids, said he had no job and hadn't held one in at least a year and a half.
His court-appointed attorney said he wasn't contesting an order that he be held in jail.