Five months before members of the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNET) burst into medical-marijuana activist Steve Sarich's home in Everett, then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Freeman sent an e-mail to now-convicted dirty cop Roy Alloway asking him if he had any "dirt" on Sarich and his friend John Worthington.
The e-mail, obtained by Seattle Weekly, shows the close relationship prosecutors had with Alloway, who was convicted last week of illegal gun dealing and tax-evasion charges and is awaiting a sentence of up to five years in prison.
The message also shows that Sarich and (to a lesser extent) Worthington were relatively unknown to law enforcement prior to the raid, and that the investigation that preceded the raid seemingly started as a direct result of Freeman's request for "dirt."
First, some background: In 2004 Port Orchard resident Ken Stone and several others were indicted for manufacturing and distributing marijuana. Stone had argued that he was a medical-marijuana provider, but prosecutors weren't buying it as an excuse.
Steve Sarich was the subject of a Seattle Weekly cover story in May of last year.
Not long after being indicted Stone entered a guilty plea. But at some point Sarich and Worthington got wind of the case, and they felt that Stone was getting a raw deal from his lawyer (the second of three).
"Ken was getting railroaded," Sarich explains to Seattle Weekly. "He had a shit lawyer and he should have never [pleaded] guilty. We just tried to help him."
On June 30, 2005 Sarich and Worthington filed declarations saying that Stone never wanted to plead guilty, and on Sept. 1 Stone entered a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
When Freeman got wind of that, she reached out to Alloway for "dirt."
It may strike some as unethical for a prosecutor to ask for "dirt" on someone simply because they filed a document in court that the prosecutor didn't like. As it turns out, however, there is nothing unethical about it. In fact, according to Seattle University School of Law professor and legal-ethics expert John Strait, Freeman's actions are "quite common."
"This is something that any attorney would use," Strait says. "By them filing declarations, they are putting their credibility at issue. The prosecutor can and should look for anything that discredits their credibility. If she was intending to blackmail them, that would be another story."
Unethical or not, what happened after the e-mail was sent shows exactly how much latitude was given to WestNET investigators, particularly Alloway, in taking a request from prosecutors and turning it into a full-on raid.
In a subsequent report, Alloway notes that it was Freeman's e-mail alone that inspired him to dig into the lives of Sarich and Worthington, pulling information on not only those two, but other members of their families, as well as retrieving power records (without a warrant) from Seattle City Light.
Former WestNET drug cop Roy Alloway is now a convicted felon.
This case begins when Steve Sarich and John Worthington took it upon themselves to become involved with a major marihuana grower/distributor that with his co-defendants were facing Federal prosecution. It was there actions and apparent close association with these other Federal defendants that led me to begin an investigation into their involvement with marihuana.
Here is the full report:
In an interview with Seattle Weekly, Freeman, who now works as the Assistant Regional Counsel at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stands by her e-mailed "dirt" request, saying, apparently quite rightly, that asking for such information was well within her scope of duties as a prosecutor. When asked why she didn't just look up Sarich and Worthington's criminal records herself, she says "That's not my job; that's why I have FBI agents, DEA agents, and other law-enforcement officers."
"You have to look at the context of the entire case," Freeman says. "When you look at accusations made by Ken Stone camp against WestNET and against Alloway at the time, look at all the time and effort that was using; and when you look at the particular track record in this particular case . . . Is it unfortunate that [the e-mail] ends up on public display? Maybe. But this is how people talk."
The current U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan refused to comment on the case, her spokesperson citing a recent threat of a lawsuit by Sarich as reason.
In the Stone case, Freeman's e-mail, Sarich and Worthington's declarations, and Alloway's subsequent investigations didn't matter in the end, as Stone eventually kept his guilty plea in a plea agreement.
For Sarich and Worthington, who have invested the last several years of their lives into digging into the reasons that police raided their houses, the entire affair is but one important footnote.