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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 with 3 Comments »
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.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. DolceVitaGal says:

    The assessor’s office is negligent in its tax appeal process. Taxpayer wins an appeal, then Washam sends his next assessment back to the level of the appeal. Clean up your act Washam.

  2. Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist needs to provide A LOT more reasoning for NOT investigating the criminal allegations made in the investigative report.

    Mr. Lindquist: Did you READ the current investigative report into these allegations? Or did you just go with whatever the previous Pros. Atty. found for “evidence” in 2005. Much of what is in the report was NOT documented in 2005.

    How do you explain statements from the employees admitting what they were doing was wrong? People who stated they were “cooking the books”? How about the emails from Sally Barnes asking people to run backdated batches of physical property inspections? The documents are in this report. NOT enough evidence!!! Get real.

    Anyone else would be sitting in jail by now–but the Pierce County employees, who worked under the previous Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen and Deputy Chief Kathy Fewins won’t even be given a second glance. WHY?

    Hmmmm…this stinks to high hell of a serious coverup all the way to the top.

    I would love to run this report by a legal attorney–perhaps a few of them–and ask them if there is enough evidence to support an investigation and prosecution of the individuals involved. I wholeheartedly believe there is.

    This is complete B.S. and I believe Mr. Lindquist should step up and do his job. I will NOT vote for him in November unless he does the job he is supposed to do for Pierce County taxpayers and voters.

    His position as Prosecuting Attorney is an elected one. Don’t forget that come November. I won’t, in fact, I will be reminding voters just who was responsible for not instigating an investigation into the criminal allegations of other elected officials and Pierce County employees.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Gov. Gregoire. In a letter from her office it states in part(quoted):

    “The Governor’s office concurs that the information uncovered by your thorough investigation should be reviewed by the county prosecution to determine if crimes were committed and if charges should be brought against the individuals involved.”

    Governor Gregoire HAS the power to request an investigation by simply writing her request to Attorney General Rob McKenna, but she does NOTHING. (See RCW 43.10.232, Section 1 (b).

    Why hasn’t she done anything (except raise our taxes!) to protect Pierce County taxpayers from this great injustice, which has caused a huge revenue loss to our schools, roads, parks, cities/towns, fire dept, law/police/sheriff, Pierce County and WA State general funds.

    Maybe all of you prefer to pay higher taxes–didn’t you hear, they are going UP! I for one, would like to only pay my fair, equal share. Wake up people!

    Eight years (2001-2008) of lost revenue put a BIG DENT in the coffers. Now we will all pay the price for that lost revenue by paying up the “yahoooo” now.

    EMAIL Pros. Atty Mark Lindquist and DEMAND he do his job and investigate and prosecute Pierce County employees involved in the mess that created higher taxes for all of us.
    pcprosatty@co.pierce.wa.us

    Give Gregoire a call and DEMAND she request an investigation.

    I can’t even believe this is happening. If it were you or I, the jail door would have already been slammed shut!

  3. taxpayer2007 says:

    Mr. Washam… Please, get over it! You talk on your website about how “Our office works for you, the taxpayer” and “You, the taxpayers are my employer.” As “your employer”, Mr. Washam, I would like to say that I am utterly unimpressed with how you use taxpayer time and money. In your quest to continually pursue this vendetta, you have spent countless resources that could have better been spent elsewhere.

    In writing, Mr. Washam, you come off as an angry, bitter man. If this is how you present in writing, I cannot imagine what you put your employees through in person! I sincerely hope that someday you can be a happy man, if not for yourself, for the people who work under you.

    That being said, I fully support Attorney Mark Lundquist’s decision to not pursue this matter. I work in coordination with local courts, and I can attest to the fact that the court system is overwhelmed. I am quite sure, especially in light of the recent slayings of local police officers, that Atty. Lunquist’s office has far more important things to do.

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