Former Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser, 67, was found guilty last Thursday of providing false information to a public servant, a gross misdemeanor, after a KIRO Team 7 Investigation revealed that a police department employee had inproperly accessed a police data base during a personal dispute with a neighbor.
Sultan's Mayor, Carolyn Eslick referred questions about the charges to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's Office.
The court suspended jail time and ordered Walser to pay $20,000 to the City of Sultan and peform over 200 hours of community service after he allegedly refused to turn over a Washington State Patrol computer record during a Public Disclosure Request.
Walser was quoted, "I'm really disappointed that the City of Sultan is pursuing this..."
The complaint was originally filed in Snohomish County but was moved to Whatcom County to avoid potential conflicts with prosecutors and judges who had worked with Walser when he was Chief of Police.
The Everett Police Department conducted an investigation that produced an 800 page document outlining the dispute between Caroline Pepperell, the employee, and her neighbor.
Other investigations were conducted by the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and a Wenatchee attorney. All three of the investigations looked into Walser's handing of public records.
Fred Walser was charged by the Whatcom County Prosecutor with lying to investigators when he attempted to cover up misfeasance by Caroline Pepperell, the employee that was involved in the dispute.
Ms. Pepperell was fired in September for inappropriate use of police department computers. Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Pepperell could be disciplined but not fired and she returned to her job in March.
Last October, Walser filed notice with the City of Sultan that he intended to sue them for 10 million dollars after pleading "not guilty" to the charges against him. The suit is still pending in Snohomish County.
Mr. Walser, a Democrat, is currently running for State Senate against incumbent Republican Val Stevens, in the 39th Legislative District. He announced that he is not stepping down from the race, despite the the fact he was found guilty of the misdemeanor.
Walser served as Chief of Police of Sultan for 12 years before retiring in May of 2007. He also served as a Washington State Patrol Officer for 30 years.
More information can be found at Monroe City Councilor Chad Minnick's blogs: http://www.chadminnick.com/main/?p=158#more-158
(Mr. Minnick is a campaign consultant that was hired by the Realtor's Quality of Life PAC in 2007. He also works for other PAC's and campaigns).
The Realtor's Quality of Life PAC is currently involved in a PDC investigation for allegedly not reporting thousands and thousands of dollars of in-kind and independent expenditures to Sam Crawford, candidate for Whatcom County Council and Dan Pike, candidate for City of Bellingham Mayor during the 2007 campaign cycle.
The PDC is considering recommending the RQL PAC case to the Washington State Attorney General's Office.
KIRO TV provided the initial evidence after conducting an indepth investigation into the story one year ago. They have documents and interview materials posted on their website. http://www.kirotv.com/news/16203974/detail.html?rss=sea&psp=news
Thank you KIRO Team 7, for being the public's watchdog!