The FBI is attempting to again focus public attention on the unsolved 2001 murder of a federal prosecutor in Seattle.
The bureau has published on its website details about the killing of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Wales, who was shot at his home on Oct. 11, 2001. The FBI noted that the Justice Department has offered a $1 million reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Ticklethewire.com was the first to report on the FBI’s continued interest in the case.
Wales worked in the Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1983 until his death, handling fraud cases.
Investigators handling his murder case initially focused their attention on a businessman, who was the subject of an unsuccessful prosecution by Wales, but authorities never charged the man.
Scott Kimball, a man convicted of several murders in Colorado, also has come under the scrutiny of investigators. He was in Seattle at the time of the murder and reportedly told the FBI after the murder that he could provide information about the case. But Kimball has denied that he killed Wales.
A man convicted of the murders of several people in Colorado during the last decade is being investigated for the 2001 murder of a federal prosecutor in Seattle, The Daily Camera reported Thursday.
A law enforcement official told the Boulder, Colo., newspaper that investigators have turned their attention to Scott Kimball, who was in Seattle when Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Wales was fatally shot at his home. Kimball is serving a 70-year prison sentence for murdering three women and his uncle in 2003 and 2004.
It is unclear why Kimball has piqued the interest of investigators. A spokeswoman with the FBI in Portland, Ore., which is handling the case, declined comment to The Daily Camera.
But the newspaper said Kimball told the FBI after the murder that he could supply details about the case. In a yet-to-be-published book, he denied killing Wales.
“If I did, do you think I’d tell you?” Kimball said in the book, according to the newspaper. “You don’t just go to jail for killing a federal prosecutor. You get executed for that sort of thing. But if anybody ever asks you, my answer is no.”
Wales worked in the Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1983 until his death on Oct. 11, 2001, handling fraud cases. Investigators working on his murder case had previously focused their attention on a businessman, who was the subject of an unsuccessful prosecution by Wales. But their probe did not result in any charges against the man.
A U.S. Attorney who was among those dismissed in the 2006 Justice Department firing controversy said Thursday that he was not surprised by the Justice Department’s recent decision not to file criminal charges in connection with the scandal.
John McKay, who was the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington from 2001 to 2006, told KUOW News that he has confidence in Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy — who was appointed in September 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey as a special prosecutor to probe the firings, particularly that of former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. But McKay said he was disappointed that the DOJ didn’t say who fired the nine George W. Bush administration U.S. Attorneys and why.
The former U.S. Attorney also said he was never questioned as part of the investigation into the scandal.
“I think it’s a little curious and somewhat disappointing that she didn’t bother questioning the United States Attorneys who were at the heart of the investigation,” McKay told the radio station.
McKay said he concluded from the probe that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who led the DOJ during the scandal, and other DOJ officials dishonored their offices and that their actions hurt the U.S. justice system.
“Those who wield the sort of power that the police and prosecutors wield have to be people who are free from politics,” McKay told KUOW News. “[The Republican and Democratic parties] can’t tell prosecutors who they should investigate, indict or send to prison. And I think we got dangerously close to that in Alberto Gonzales’s Department of Justice.”
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The Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office will beef up its efforts to fight white-collar crime, The Associated Press reported this week.
The Seattle-based office is hiring three prosecutors who will be charged with handling mortgage fraud, financial fraud and intellectual property cases.
“There’s going to be a real stepped-up effort in the area of white-collar and financial crimes,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan told the AP.
The announcement came on the same day the U.S. Attorney’s office announced charges against two Washington men who allegedly operated Ponzi schemes. Prosecutors said the men filched millions of dollars from their neighbors and friends.
A senior Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington will leave his job to join a major Seattle law firm, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett, who also spent time as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, will join the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP after working for 25 years at the Justice Department.
Bartlett handled several major cases in the Western District of Washington, including the the successful prosecution of “millennium bomber” Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted of attempting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve 1999.
A man arrested for making death threats against Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) allegedly paraphrased Attorney General Eric Holder’s “nation of cowards” remarks, according to the criminal complaint released Tuesday.
Selah, Wash., resident Charles Alan Wilson, 64, alluded to the controversial phrase Holder used in a 2009 speech about the lack of frank dialogue between blacks and whites in the United States, the complaint said. President Barack Obama last year criticized Holder for using the phrase, which overshadowed a larger and more nuanced point Holder was trying to make about race.
According to the complaint, a voice mail message allegedly left by Wilson at Murray’s Seattle office criticized the senator’s support of the health care bill that became law last month, saying: “We are not a country of cowards, as one of the high ranking people of this administration says. You’ll find out how f****** cowardly we really are, my dear. Better get under your desk, get on your (unintelligible).”
The March 22 voice mail was one of several threatening messages the senator’s office received from the man, according to the complaint. Wilson could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
“Free speech is the cornerstone of our democratic process, and we are a country of vigorous debate,” Western District of Washington Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg said in a statement. “However, threats of violence have no place in that debate. The threats here crossed the line, and violate the law.”
This article has been updated.
A former Army Ranger who led a 2006 Tacoma, Wash., bank heist was sentenced Monday to an additional 20 years in federal prison for stabbing a co-defendant with a homemade knife in prison and plotting to kill an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Luke Sommer is currently serving a 24-year prison sentence for the bank robbery. He pleaded guilty in January to charges stemming from the stabbing and the murder plan against a federal prosecutor from the Western District of Washington, who was not named in court documents. The prosecutor was identified only as “M.D.” in court records.
The former Army Ranger tried to solicit an undercover FBI task force officer to kill the Assistant U.S. Attorney for about $15,000 to $20,000, according to a plea agreement. Sommer did not care how the hit was carried out so long as “news reports would indicate it was a murder rather than a possible accident,” the plea agreement said.
“There is no doubt that the defendant is a very dangerous man and needs to be locked up to protect society,” Assistant United States Attorney Gregory A. Gruber said in a statement. Gruber was the lead prosecutor on the case.
The Seattle Times first reported the story.
We reported earlier this year that threats against federal prosecutors increased during the last decade. Justice Department officials have pledged to address the DOJ Office of Inspector General’s concerns about the safety of prosecutors.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington has closed a two-year investigation into rape allegations against magician David Copperfield without filing charges, reports The Associated Press.
The notice came in a brief court document filed Tuesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe. The office is headed by Jenny Durkan, who was confirmed in late September. Says the article:
The woman who made the complaint, a former Miss Washington contestant, said in a related civil lawsuit against Copperfield, whose real name is David Kotkin, that she met him during a performance in Kennewick and was invited to visit his private island in the Bahamas in July 2007.
The woman claimed Copperfield invited her to visit his private island in the Bahamas in 2007, where he assaulted her. Copperfield’s attorneys denied the allegations and said the woman was trying to extort Copperfield.
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The Senate confirmed three U.S. Attorneys last night by unanimous consent.
-Jenny Durkan (Western District of Washington): The Seattle lawyer was nominated June 4. She will replace Jeffrey C. Sullivan, who has been the interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge. Read more about Durkan here.
-Florence Nakakuni (Hawaii): The Hawaii Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated July 14. She will succeed Bush holdover Edward Kubo Jr., who has been U.S. Attorney since 2001. Read more about Nakakuni here.
-Deborah Gilg (Nebraska): The Omaha lawyer was nominated July 31. She will replace Bush holdover Joe Stecher, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2007. Read more about Gilg here.
The Senate has now confirmed 14 U.S. Attorneys who have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Paul Fishman for New Jersey is the only nominee who has been endorsed by the panel, but has not been considered by the full Senate yet. Fishman and Durkan waited more than three months before the Senate Judiciary Committee considered them. Read our previous report about the delays on them here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to consider eight U.S. Attorney nominees, including Timothy Heaphy for the Western District of Virginia who will go before the panel tomorrow.
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A quick review of Jenny Durkan’s political contributions over the past decade may help shed light on why it took the Senate Judiciary Committee almost four months to approve her nomination for Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney.
Durkan donated $288,205 to Democratic candidates, causes and organizations on the state and federal levels from 1998 to 2008, according to election records from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Durkan gave $164,415 to Democrats on the federal level, including $2,300 to Barack Obama in 2008. She also gave $123,790 to Democrats in Washington, $37,275 of which went to the Washington State Democratic Party in 2006.
Durkan was nominated on June 4 as part of the first batch of U.S. Attorney nominees announced by the White House. But then, her nomination stalled. When it finally came before the Judiciary committee on Sept. 17, ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) invoked committee rules to delay consideration another week.
Sessions told Main Justice in an interview that unnamed Republicans on the committee had questions and needed time for further review. The panel reported her nomination on Sept. 24 by unanimous consent. It’s unclear when the full Senate will consider Durkan for confirmation. Sessions declined to specify what issues arose in the GOP vetting.
The Seattle Times in June raised the question of whether Durkan’s Democratic ties would present ethical problems if she is confirmed as U.S. Attorney. The Times noted her close relationship to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) and wrote:
Durkan long has been one of Gregoire’s staunchest allies — friend, confidante, attorney and counselor. Durkan was consulted by Gregoire’s campaign and represented the governor’s interests during the failed GOP legal challenge to her razor-thin 2004 victory over Dino Rossi.
Durkan comes from a powerful Democratic family in the Pacific Northwest. Her father, Martin Durkan Sr., was a long-time state senator in Washington. He died in 2005.
Durkan would replace Jeffrey C. Sullivan, who has been the interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge.