Trial date set for former Whitman student charged with ID theft, burglary

Shelly Le

A trial date for a former Whitman student who has been charged with identity theft in the second degree and burglary in the second degree has been set.

Simon Van Neste was arrested last year on Oct. 27 and was detained for four days in the Walla Walla County Corrections Facility. According to the County of Walla Walla Statement of Arresting officer, Van Neste was brought to the facility after being found in Reid Campus Center attempting swipe access to the Darkroom seven days earlier.

The state of Washington has pressed further legal charges against Van Neste. The trial will be held in the Walla Walla County Courthouse on March 14 and 15.

In accordance with its own internal procedures, Whitman held a conduct hearing in early January where Van Neste appeared in front of the Council on Student Affairs. Although Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland could not comment on the case directly, he noted that Van Neste is no longer registered as a student at Whitman.

Cleveland further stated that the college will press no further charges against Van Neste beyond the decision made at the conduct hearing.

“In general, when a student is brought before the Council of Student Affairs . . . and is typically charged with a violations of college policy, then the council determines two things: First, is the student responsible for violating college policy? And if the student is found responsible, then the council also charges the student with what is the appropriate sanction,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland emphasized that the college’s actions against Van Neste are independent of the state and federal legal system.

“As far as my knowledge goes, no one from the college has been called to attend the hearing. We will not be present,” he said.

During interviews prior to his arrest, Van Neste had admitted to encoding the ID numbers of other students, staff and faculty at Whitman to his own Whitman ID card. Van Neste had used these ID numbers to purchase food at Whitman on a number of occasions and enter secure areas including roofs of at least two buildings and areas with technology.

According to the Revised Code of Washington state, if found guilty of identity theft in the second degree, Van Neste could face up to to one year in prison and fines reaching up to $10,000. If convicted for burglary in the second degree, he could face up to ten years of incarceration or a fine reaching up to $20,000.