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Calls by Washam’s office for criminal investigation raise questions of ‘impropriety,’ prosecutor’s office says

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Oct. 15, 2010 at 10:49 am with 14 Comments »
October 15, 2010 1:40 pm

Calls by Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam‘s office for a criminal investigation into the actions of his predecessor raise questions of impropriety, “if not worse,” the prosecutor’s office says.

Dale Washam

In the latest back-and-forth between Washam’s office and other county officials. Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Doug Vanscoy wrote on Thursday that questions about whether the public was harmed by skipped physical property inspections had been asked and answered. (You can read his letter here.)  Prosecutor’s letter

Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Alberto Ugas filed a criminal complaint with Sheriff Paul Pastor on Oct. 4, claiming “conspiracy to defraud, forgery and falsification of official public records” in took place in Madsen’s office from 2001-2008. Alberto Ugas Criminal Complaint

Vanscoy’s letter was in response to an Oct. 12 request from Ugas that Prosecutor Mark Lindquist “stand up for taxpayers…by initiating an investigation into the allegations set forth in my criminal complaint.” Letter from Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Alberto Ugas to Prosecutor Mark Lindquist

Ugas contends in both his complaint to Pastor and his letter to Lindquist that Madsen’s office unlawfully carried out “forgeries and falsifications” of public records after skipping physical property inspections required by the state. Those actions hopelessly corrupted the tax rolls and harmed taxpayers, Ugas and Washam contend.

Vanscoy, responding to Ugas at Lindquist’s request, wrote in part: “Your own investigative report attempts…to link the Madsen issues to a former employee who has a pending EEO complaint against Mr. Washam, raising a question whether your importuning for a criminal investigation has the appearance of impropriety, if not worse.” Prosecutor’s letter to Washam

Vanscoy also told Washam and Ugas the prosecutor’s office has repeatedly said it doesn’t conduct criminal investigations but rather relies on the investigations of police agencies to decide whether criminal charges are warranted.

In a separate letter, Pastor told Washam and his staff that the Sheriff’s Department would make a preliminary assessment of Ugas’ complaint but that it would be up to the prosecutor’s office to pursue any charges. Sheriff’s letter

A portion of Pastor’s letter to Ugas reads: “Thank you (for) forwarding what you have identified as a ‘Criminal Complaint’ and request for investigation.  First, you should know that there is no such thing as a ‘Criminal Complaint.’  So, what I am doing is treating this as a request for an investigation.  However, given the volume of information which you have provided, an initial assessment will take some time.

Washam has been seeking an investigation into the practices of Madsen and his staff for several years. In 2005, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee threw out Washam’s recall petition against Madsen, saying it showed no evidence that Madsen intentionally broke the law.

Washam, who was elected  Assessor-Treasurer in 2008 and took office in 2009, continues to make allegations against Madsen and the work of Madsen’s staff and press for criminal investigations.

In April, an  independent county investigation found that Washam was correct that inspections were skipped. But many officials have said there’s no proof taxpayers were harmed.

Madsen’s office, in the midst of a computer conversion and slammed by a booming property market in some of those years, made statistical appraisals of many properties rather than in-person assessments. State law requires physical inspection of each property at least once every six years.

Earlier this year, Washam refused to certify the county’s tax rolls, saying they were tainted by the missed inspections and that some property owners were undoubtedly paying more than their share of taxes while others were paying less because thousands of properties weren’t properly appraised.

The State Department of Revenue  said Washam’s action would have no effect on potential property tax appeals.  Many officials have said there’s no proof taxpayers were harmed by the missed inspections,which Madsen’s office occurred during a computer conversion.

Last month, both the state attorney general and the governor’s office told Washam they would not pursue a criminal investigation into Madsen’s office. Brian T. Moran, chief deputy attorney general, and Narda Pierce, general counsel to Gov. Christine Gregoire, each wrote to Washam that the matter had been reviewed by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and they could see no reason to pursue it further.

The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office “has reviewed your request and declined to investigate the allegations on at least two separate occasions,” Pierce wrote. She referred to letters written by then Prosecutor Gerald Horne on May 11, 2009, and by Vanscoy on Jan. 27.

Washam, meanwhile, faces allegations of mistreatment of employees in his own office. There have been a series of probes into his conduct, and independent investigators have found that Washam violated state and federal laws by retaliating against an employee who disagreed with him.

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. lovethemountains says:

    Dale, Dale, Dale. How can you efficiently pursue your sworn duties while at the same time obsessing over issues that have clearly been examined by agencies in and outside Pierce County and have been deemed to be without merit? Get over your years long vendetta and do your job.

  2. dirtydan54 says:

    Thats just one of the usual responses of the Pierce County prosecutors office states when one is attempting to have corruption prosecuted in Pierce County government or it’s officers.

    Corrupt practices by agency officers in routine and protected from prosecution or other scrutiny.

    Any time Mark Lindquist feels compelled and has a spine I would love to debate this topic in a public arena with everything I have collected in the past 8 years.

    Got what it takes there Mark?

  3. dirtydan54 says:

    And as for Paul Pastor, same thing goes for you too there buddy.

  4. According to a defense attorney I once knew, what do you expect – it’s Pierce County.

  5. speakout says:

    What a merry go round of government CYA, of course they are denying anyone was harmed, when in fact everyone was harmed even if they don’t own real property, The greatest fear here is full exposure, and it’s a flimsy excuse at best why they are refusing to do what is required of them by law. If you shoot at someone and miss they aren’t harmed, but you still get arrested for trying. This is about the requirement to abide by the demands of the Law/RCW, and failure to do that is in fact a crime, as is changing the wording of the law to support the claim of I’m only doing what the law requires, physical harm done or not it violates the rights of every person and that is a criminal action under Federal Law. Title 18 sec 241, 242, If this was a Hollywood celebrity drug problem it would be on the front page, for months or longer, government scams only get denied on the lesser pages as if it was less than littering while at the dump.
    You should be asking why everyone is ducking and dodging and refusing, are they all involved in the scam, and it was a scam, to wring Millions if not Billions out of Your pockets for taxes you never legally owed. And that is a crime of significant magnitude, enough so that heads need to roll no matter how far up the ladder they are. There are NOT two sets of laws, even though some like Madsen are getting that unwritten benefit long after leaving office. But they need to pay the penalty for the crimes they committed against the People, against You. Rise up fellow citizens and send a clear message that you will not tolerate criminal protection, especially of anyone in government.. Put them on notice and strike fear in their black hearts that you will not tolerate this type of denial, cover up, and refusal to do what is required by law.
    Rip open that can of worms and let us all see how deep the rot and corruption really goes. Continued refusal only makes us wonder even more how deep you are involved.
    What say You fellow citizen, which do you prefer, Truth or Cover up?

  6. Concernedfather says:

    First of all, there was NEVER an IDEPENDENT investigation into this matter.
    The fact is that this is NOT about skipped inspections, like everyone keeps trying to claim. It IS about forging public documents, which was done over 200 thousand times.
    Forging and/or falsifying public documents IS a felony act. It was done knowingly and purposefully, even AFTER the recall hearings for Madsen.
    It is all there for anyone who cares enough to check.
    As for the Performance Audit, a resolution was enacted by the County Council on the 26th and 4 days later they gave the results of their hastily conducted investigation. The resolution asked them to look at budget cuts, the effects they would have on the Assessor’s office, and work loads of assessors in neighboring counties. Never where they asked to make a determination as to the result of the fraudulent acts of Mr. Madsen.

  7. S_Emerson says:

    RE: “after skipping physical property inspections required by the state”

    Um, why do the officials continue to called them skipped or missed inspections, when they weren’t skipped inspections, and they certainly weren’t missed inspections–they were intentional fraudulent claims of REAL physical inspections as noted by the “KMP” notation – they even included codes to reflect the appraiser was refused entry/no one home/inaccessible, etc.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “First, you should know that there is no such thing as a ‘Criminal Complaint.’ ”

    Google “criminal complaint” and see what comes up – even the Dept. of Justice recognizes the term Criminal Complaint.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “However, given the volume of information which you have provided, an initial assessment will take some time.”

    Excuse me? Mr. Washam has been asking the Sheriff to investigate this for a long, long time, and this implies he hasn’t read the same information I, as a plain ol’ citizen, have taken the time to read? Not acceptable.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “In April, an independent county investigation found that Washam was correct that inspections were skipped. But many officials have said there’s no proof taxpayers were harmed.”

    The “investigation” was performed by the Performance Audit Department (which works FOR the County Council) which has NO proper jurisdiction to investigate criminal activity. Additionally, anyone who knows how levy rate works KNOWS that the citizens of Pierce County were harmed.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “link the Madsen issues to a former employee who has a pending EEO complaint against Mr. Washam”

    Well, the public records speak for themselves. Kathy Fewins emails and notes instructing the IT people to falsify the records are indisputable evidence that she IS linked to the Madsen issue.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “In 2005, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee threw out Washam’s recall petition against Madsen, saying it showed no evidence that Madsen intentionally broke the law.”

    Ludicrus! Not only did Madsen intentionally break the law thousands and thousands and thousands of times before the judge threw out the case, Madsen went right back to the Annex and continued intentionally breaking the law for another 3+ years.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “Madsen’s office, in the midst of a computer conversion and slammed by a booming property market in some of those years, made statistical appraisals of many properties rather than in-person assessments. State law requires physical inspection of each property at least once every six years.”

    These words tell the sum of the issue – Madsen intentionally falsified the records therefore breaking the law REPEATEDLY and in MASS numbers of parcels at a time.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “some property owners were undoubtedly paying more than their share of taxes while others were paying less because thousands of properties weren’t properly appraised.”

    The still ARE, not “were”. There is no disputing this.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “Pastor told Washam and his staff that the Sheriff’s Department would make a preliminary assessment of Ugas’ complaint but that it would be up to the prosecutor’s office to pursue any charges”

    So DO IT, Pastor – just do it, and then Mark Lindquist should do HIS job. I say this knowing that this investigation should NOT be done by anyone in Pierce County – as proven by their obvious refusal to take this seriously for the past 5 years.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    RE: “Washam, meanwhile, faces allegations of mistreatment of employees in his own office.”

    Yep – here we go again with the TNT’s reminder to ‘shoot the messenger’ in effort to distract the public from something that’s REALLY wrong with Pierce County. And a side note –the first EE complaint was filed against Washam within 12 hours of Washam addressing the County Council about this issue.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I’d love to see some of you at tonight’s public meeting – NE corner of 112th St E & Waller Rd – Library Admin Bldg – 6:30 PM.

    Stacy Emerson
    stacy.emerson@gmail.vcom
    253-921-6874

  8. newshound100 says:

    I trust none of them Washam or Lindquist . Lindquist is using this office as a stepping stone to the Governors Mansion

  9. lovethemountains says:

    Yawn. This stuff is no longer very interesting reading.

  10. kareen01 says:

    The Truth is what is needed!! But then, Pierce County has never been known for it’s truthfulness or honesty! Do the investigation FULLY and let the chips (charges) fall where they may!

  11. wyecoyote says:

    Here’s an idea for all those saying they want an investigation. Go fund one hire an attorney and then sue. Pay for it out of your pocket book. Unless Pierce County actually gets hit with a lawsuit is the only time they will step up and take notice. You can even have all the winnings of the suit after you pay lawyer fees and all other third party providers.

    Otherwise, Washam brought this up in 2005 so the clock is ticking and close to passing on anything from 01-05 as far as getting money back. Then again from what I remember RCW’s state the county can only pay back for 3 years. So you may end up with only money owed from 08, 09 and 10.

    Washam also knew this was going on and signed off on last years. Now that others are not playing ball with his aggenda he refuses to sign this year. Funny how that works. Lastly how many inspections has he done with that new SUV that he stated he needed to have to do inspections? Or did he just lie like any other politician and just wanted to spend taxpayers money on it like his office remodel?

  12. Oh yea- the same PC Prosc. office that cost use 3 million a couple of years ago on an employee suit the Prosc. office said was a lie? The same Prosc. office that apparently must have been unavailable to KOMO4 Problems solvers reporting on this same issue who found NO EVIDENCE of anyone outside of the assessors office looking into this complaint?
    I don’t know how Washam runs his office or what kind of person he is but facts are he got votes because he was a whistle blower that didn’t give up when apparent corruption in PC govt. covered up fraud. Yet still our local govt officials fail to just come clean with a full investigation and complete public disclosure. Guess too many still in office might have to fess up to their part .. ya think?
    As long as PC officials in all their little good ol boys offices can blow enough smoke , this will remain a fraud and failing of PC govt in total to do their jobs and honorably represent their residents. More threats and releases from PC offices including the Prosc. office ( funny how this is finally in a way being addressed… can we say election year?) just show how much this issue is making them look bad to the soon to be voting public.
    Want my vote? Come clean and really give a full investigation. Till then not one member who has sat in office during this time will get it cause to me their failure means their involvement.

  13. Thank you for your article today. Your article finally motivated me to take some action. I am so tired of the Assessor-Treasurer wasting our tax dollars on his personal vendetta that I have started a grassroots effort to have him recalled. http://www.recalldalewasham.org

    Lets get this guy out of office!

  14. ThinkerDem says:

    Washam is a miserable administrator,and he deserves to be sued for his lousy personnel management, but he is right that the tax rolls are “tainted” by the obolete information in his records that was, and still is being used to program those “statistical appraisals” since 2001. There HAS BEEN HARM TO TAXPAYERS, and just because “many officials” have said there was “NO HARM” doesn’t make it true when the facts and “Appraisal Principals” clearly demonstrate the truth.

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