Fugitive busted when spotted as an actor in small budget movie in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A fugitive who was convicted of armed bank robbery and who walked away from a work-release program was found Friday because of his new job -- actor in a small budget movie in Olympia.

Jason Stange won a part in the movie “Marla Mae” after going to an open casting call in Olympia last month. He used his real name when trying out for the role.

“I was casting for a very different person,” said writer/director Lisa Van Dam-Bates, who had never met him before. “I was casting for someone younger, way different looking. But Jason, he's a really good actor.”

Stange didn’t have an acting background, and Van Dam-Bates said she didn't know about his criminal background.

But she said she’s been impressed with his work and his work ethic over the past few weeks.

“Honestly, he's been really good. He's been on time, professional.”

The crew was wrapping up production in Olympia this week. To get a little publicity, they agreed to an interview with The Olympian newspaper. That is what led to Stange's capture.

When the article was published, with photos, a U.S. marshal recognized Stange’s name and photograph.

Stange was wanted after walking away from a work-release program in Eastern Washington.

The U.S. Marshals Task Force, with the Washington state Department of Corrections Community Response Unit, found out where the crew was filming and made the arrest Friday.

“They kind of like honed in, waited out there, he went to go get cigarettes and they got him,” said Van Dam-Bates.

She was surprised to hear about Stange’s past, but added that she doesn’t think he’s a violent person.

“I think if it would have been a really brutal terrible crime, it would have changed my opinion of him a lot -- if it had been a rape, or murder, or something really horrific.”

She’s not condoning what he did. But she said she’s going to keep him in the movie.

He just may not be able to see it when it’s finished.

“He got caught and he has to live with that," she said.

Stange was asked why he used his real name when he got cast and when he met with the newspaper reporter. He replied that he thought this was a small movie and he didn’t expect it to get much attention.