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Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Ugas could be liable for legal bills in bid to recall Prosecutor Lindquist, county attorney says

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Oct. 27, 2010 at 10:14 am with 7 Comments »
October 27, 2010 4:18 pm

An effort by Pierce County Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Alberto Ugas and another Pierce County resident to recall Prosecutor Mark Lindquist could cost the pair a lot of money in legal fees.

Lindquist says the recall is frivolous and believes it’s an attempt to influence the Nov. 2 General Election in which Lindquist is opposed by attorney Bertha Fitzer, who formerly worked in the prosecutor’s office.

When I asked Pierce County Communications Director Hunter George who would represent Lindquist and pay the legal bills in this case, I got this reply by e-mail from Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Vanscoy, who works for Lindquist.

“The County, including the Prosecutor’s Office, is precluded by law from supporting or opposing any recall or other ballot measure. The lone exception to that rule is a statute, RCW 4.96.041(3), permitting a county or other local government to pay the reasonable litigation expenses, including private counsel, incurred by the subject of a recall. The County may not be asked to pay for such expenses related to this particular recall, however. The state Supreme Court held in 1998 that courts are not “powerless to respond to intentionally frivolous recall petitions brought for the purpose of harassment. Attorney fees may be awarded against a petitioner who brings a recall petition in bad faith.”

Ugas could not be reached for comment this morning. He and Lake Tapps resident Dan Fishburn filed the recall petition against Lindquist last week, claiming Lindquist has failed to uphold the law by refusing to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by previous Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen and his staff.

Ugas said he’s acting as a concerned private citizen – and not at the direction of his boss, Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, in the matter.

Their six-page petition, accompanied by 624 pages of backup documents, affidavits and other materials, also alleged Lindquist obstructed justice by dissuading the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department from investigating the issue.

LIndquist said he believes “it will be thrown out on the merits,” adding there’s no truth to the claim he obstructed justice. His department doesn’t investigate crimes, but if the Sheriff’s Department brings him evidence of wrongdoing, the prosecutor’s office will take it seriously and review it to make a decision on whether charges should be filed, Lindquist said last week.

An independent investigtation found earlier this year that  Washam was right in his assertions that Madsen and his staff failed to perform thousands of in-person property assessment inspections required by law from 2001-2008.

Washam, who was elected in 2008 and took office in January 2009, has made his efforts to get a criminal investigation into the matter a centerpiece of his administration.

Officials from several agencies have ruled there’s no need for further investigation and say taxpayers weren’t harmed by the missed inspections.

Washam and Ugas refer to the inspections as “falsified’ and contend a criminal investigation is warranted into the “forgeries” of public documents they say occurred during Madsen’s watch.

The recall petition was turned over to the state Attorney General’s office to avoid any conflict of interest. The Ag’s office must write a ballot synopsis of how the recall might appear before voters and submit it to Superior Court, which will then conduct a hearing on whether the petition is appropriate. That synopsis is due Nov. 3; a court hearing would be scheduled after that.

There are many questions. At this moment, Lindquist is an appointed prosecutor. The election for a new four-year prosecutor term will not take place until next week – two weeks after the petition was filed.

The recall would be moot if he loses the election.

If the court the petition valid, then signature gathering could begin under the state’s recall laws.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. olympicmtn says:

    Comment: The recall would be moot if he loses the election.

    SO LET’s boot Lindquist out once and for all.

    Forget this rotating of incumbent prosecutor’s that are hand selected by Ladenburg and his cronies all who turn a blind eye to victims and criminals in this county. I am not proud that we have the #1 criminal and sex offenders in this state. Voters are tired of voting for the same darn people. Kick him out now.

    As for the “threat” of paying for legal bills,” once Cathy Pearsall-Stipek pays back all the money the same darn prosecutor’s office spent in defending this crack pot of a crook politician, then you will have a basis to talk. Until then, I say go forth and investigate the alleged crimes reported given Madsen and his actions.

  2. Just curious…
    When Washam filed his recall against Madsen was he held liable for the charges? If not, then isn’t precedent set and having the Prosc. Office threatening to charge Ugas more of an empty threat or more retaliation?

    How many recall petitions has Pierce County charged the defense of the official back to the filer?

    And as to influencing elections… Sorry- Mr. Lindquest did this all on his own by refusing to debate or appear at any Voters/ Community information meetings if Ms. Fitzer was also invited. That sealed it for me. I want someone less afraid of public debate…………………….

  3. NineInchNachosII says:

    “Officials from several agencies have ruled there’s no need for further investigation and say taxpayers weren’t harmed by the missed inspections.”
    I think Mr. “my life is a nightmare” Fishburn would beg to differ.

  4. Tales_of_the_Bizarro_World says:

    A change of Prosecuter’s name won’t matter.

    A frivolous recall will be filed against anyone that has been indoctrined with common sense.

  5. PrincipalSkinner says:

    What do Dale Washam, Alberto Ugas, and Bertha Fitzer have in common? They’re all craaaaaaaazzzzyyyy! And they’ve stupidly taken on our star prosecutor.

  6. newshound100 says:

    Pierce County has a huge problem with ethics . It’s always had . Mr Lindquist seems to be using a threat against his political opponents . Maybe it’s his “movie star good looks” thats making him do it …. In Mr. Lindquists push to become our Governor in 2016 he still needs to follow the law.

  7. Concernedfather says:

    Come on, hound.
    Really? Start a statement with an ethics observation, allude to acts of coruption, and end it all up by accusing someone of “criminally good looks”?

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