"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, August 01, 2005

I Bought the Sheriff 

My morning fishwrap has published the first installment of a three-part series in which it is revealed that the King County (WA) Sheriff's Department is corrupt, there is a "thin blue line" that protects criminals with badges, and prosecutors are politically motivated.

In other hard-hitting investigations, the paper also reports that the sun rises in the east, water is wet, and Bill O'Reilly is creepy.

Seriously, though, the Seattle P-I piece is well-written, well-researched, and absolutely sickening. It's the story of Dan Ring, a deputy who describes himself as "a natural at making vice arrests. I'm a natural bullshitter, I guess." Ring managed to get himself assigned to the intelligence unit, where he had access to high-tech surveillance equipment, unmarked vehicles, and sensitive personal information on some of Seattle's most active players in the sex and drug industries. He also had virtually no effective supervision, according to an FBI investigator involved in the case. Thus it came to pass that Ring used the resources at his disposal to satisfy his own enormous appetite for sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and raw power. His sweet deal turned sour, however, when he became abusive toward his wife, Janine Taylor, a former prostitute Ring had met in the course of his professional activities. When Taylor reported Ring's behavior to the Intenal Investigations Unit, however, she was reminded that cops take care of their own:
The investigators assured her that her report would remain confidential, and would be thoroughly investigated.

Neither part of that promise was kept.

As Taylor talked with the investigators, someone alerted Ring's supervisor, Sgt. Ray Green, the man in charge of King County's intelligence unit.

Ring says Green immediately called him on a cell phone to warn him that his wife was filing a report against him.

"He just said your wife is down in IIU. Your wife is reporting you for assault and for using drugs," Ring recalled.

He wrote a brief description of Green's warning call on his Microsoft Outlook calendar in his work computer. It was later found by investigators.

"That's not my recollection of how that happened," Green said, without clarifying what he did recall. "You are just going to have to print what you are going to print."

Additional installments in the series are scheduled to appear tomorrow and Wednesday and, according to the teasers, will examine the investigation of Ring's crimes in detail and then how Ring managed to avoid prosecution (in fact, he received nearly two years of paid leave plus another $10,000 in cash, attorney's fees of nearly $200,000, and a $3,500-a-month lifetime pension - "'I can scrape by on that,' he says with a smile"). And it is this final twist that gives this essentially local story a somewhat wider impact, because former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert - who initially instigated the investigation but later (according to this handy PDF format chart of the players in the story) ultimately blocked the FBI from pursuing Ring - is now a member of Congress from Washington's 8th District.

And, of course, you can probably guess which political party claims Congressman Reichert as a member.




Come on, you guys. If they had a case, they would have taken it to trial instead of making a last minute sweetheart deal. Maybe his personal life is objectionable to us, but it is his personal life. I think he's getting screwed.
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