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Pierce County prosecutor won’t pursue Washam’s claims

Post by David Wickert on Jan. 15, 2010 at 8:00 am |
January 15, 2010 12:50 pm

Update: See comments from Dale Washam below.

Note: This is the first of several updates I’ll be posting today on issues in the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Office.

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam has again asked the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to investigate allegations related to property inspections that were not done in recent years.

But it looks like he’ll get the same answer he got before: no.

Washam announced last March that, under his predecessor, the office had failed to conduct thousands of property inspections required by state law. In a detailed report on the matter, he claims employees falsified inspection records and submitted false state and county reports to cover up the skipped inspections.

The assessor has asked everyone from Gov. Chris Gregoire to Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne to investigate. He’s had no luck getting anyone to pursue the matter.

Horne told Washam last year the matter did not warrant investigation. The prosecutor noted that Washam’s accusations failed to pass legal muster when they were raised in a recall petition against Madsen in 2005.

But Washam hasn’t given up. This week he asked Horne’s successor, Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist, to investigate allegations that office employees violated state and federal laws.

“Mr. Lindquist, taxpayers need your help to get the needed full investigation into the alleged fraud, forgery, conspiracy and violation of public law that has allegedly taken place in the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s office …” Washam wrote (you can download the letter here or at Washam’s web site).

Lindquist told me Thursday he will not oblige Washam’s request.

The prosecutor echoed Horne’s reasoning: he said Washam did not meet the burden of proof when he raised the allegations in the 2005 recall petition, a civil matter. Lindquist said the burden of proof in criminal cases is even higher.

“We’ve got real business to do in this office,” Lindquist said. “I don’t have time to get pulled into what appears to be politics.”

I received this e-mail from Washam regarding this post:

Your article on the Blog states …” Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam has again asked the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to investigate allegations related to property inspections that were not done in recent years”… that statement is not accurate.

Please read my letter to Mark Lindquist, I clearly cite to the Governor’s letter, which states …”it is the locally-elected prosecutor’s responsibility to take the lead in instigating further action”…

In my letter to Mark Lindquist I clearly state …” Therefore, this is a request asking you to take the lead in instigating further action”… My said letter is a request for help to get an investigation, as recommended by the Governor’s office and not necessarily a request for Mr. Lindquist’s office to do an investigation. He could refer the investigation to the state authorities or to the federal authorities, considering the magnitude of the alleged 368,642 falsified entries into the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s office official taxpayer records during the years of 2001 through 2008.

Something else that needs to be corrected, you stated on your Blog article today …” The prosecutor echoed Horne’s reasoning: he said Washam did not meet the burden of proof when he raised the allegations in the 2005 recall petition, a civil matter. Lindquist said the burden of proof in criminal cases is even higher.”  Mr. Wickert, I know you value truth in your writing. You should know that a Recall action is not a Civil case and does not require any burden of proof regarding Recall charges. The court in a Recall action only determines the factual and legal sufficiency of a Recall charge and NOT the truth of the charge. If you check with any attorney that has any Recall knowledge you will find that I am correct. It is fact, that there is no burden of proof in a Recall action. The voters determine the truth of a Recall charge action with their votes. It also must be noted, that in a Recall action there is no Discovery and there are no witnesses, like you would have in a Civil case.

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