Ex-Issaquah insurance agent pleads guilty to swindling seniors

November 15, 2011

The former Issaquah insurance agent responsible for stealing more than $1 million from elderly clients to spend on clothing, online psychic advisers and more pleaded guilty Oct. 31.

Jasmine Jamrus-Kassim, 49, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court. Prosecutors reduced the number of charges from 21 as part of a plea deal.

The victims approved of the plea deal, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. In some cases, victims’ family members agreed, because the victim had since died.

Prosecutors said Jamrus-Kassim stole at least $1,052,088 between late 2007 and late 2009. The seniors — ranging in age from 74 to 90 — made out checks to Jamrus-Kassim. The clients thought she intended to reinvest the money for them.

Instead, she funneled the money into a personal account for clothes, jewelry and a trip to Mexico.

Court records also show she made large payments to online psychic advisers, including $20,000 to a psychic website in a single month.

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King County Council adopts ‘stable and balanced’ 2012 budget

November 15, 2011

In a unanimous decision Nov. 9, King County Council members adopted a $5.2 billion budget for 2012 focused on basic human needs, such as food and shelter, and maintenance for aging roads in rural and unincorporated areas.

The total includes a $650 million general fund budget — dollars for elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions. Leaders did not tap reserves for the 2012 spending plan.

“This stable and balanced budget is a product of a decadelong effort to respond to shrinking revenues by cutting costs while maintaining our high bond ratings through sound fiscal management,” Councilman Larry Phillips said.

The budget outlines a plan for some streets in rural and unincorporated areas near Issaquah to receive reduced maintenance and a lower priority for snow removal.

In turn, King County plans to shift attention to heavily traveled roads, such as Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

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Former Issaquah HOA president is headed to trial

November 15, 2011

The man accused of bilking more than $10,000 from a local homeowners association is due in court early next year.

Kennedy M. Mulwa, 27, faces a first-degree theft charge, because authorities said he stole money from the homeowners association in Sammamish Crown Condominiums, 4330 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway S.E.

King County prosecutors said Mulwa, serving as the homeowners association president, transferred $11,370 from the homeowners association’s account to his business, Orwell Tours and Travel.

In January 2010, a homeowners association employee discovered a withdrawal from a reserve account. Other board members later confronted Mulwa about the withdrawal, but said he lacked the funds to replace the money in the homeowner association’s account. Instead, he did not return the money, prosecutors said.

Mulwa is due in King County Superior Court for a trial Jan. 4.

FBI arrests Issaquah bank heist suspect

November 8, 2011

FBI agents arrested the suspect in the Oct. 28 robbery of a local KeyBank branch, a former Snoqualmie resident connected to other thefts in the area.

Investigators arrested Christopher Isaac Titian, 19, Nov. 2 at a motel in Everett, less than a week after the Issaquah robbery.

Investigators located the suspect after a Snoqualmie police officer, Nigel Draveling, recognized the man from surveillance images captured at the bank. Police publicized the images in the hours after the incident.

Issaquah police responded to a robbery at KeyBank, 405 N.W. Gilman Blvd., just after 2 p.m. Oct. 28.

Investigators said a man approached a bank employee, handed the employee a demand note and said, “Just read it and do what it says. Don’t push the alarm.”

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Ex-Issaquah insurance agent pleads guilty to bilking seniors

November 1, 2011

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 1, 2011

Jasmine Jamrus-Kassim, a former Issaquah insurance agent, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $1 million from elderly clients.

Investigators said she then used the money to pay for online psychics and more.

Jamrus-Kassim pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court for stealing retirement funds. Investigators said five victims — Bellevue, Renton and Seattle seniors ranging in age from 74 to 90 — made out checks to the agent because they believed she intended to reinvest the money for them.

Instead, investigators said she funneled the money into a personal account for clothes, jewelry and a trip to Mexico.

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Tent City 4, Eastside homeless camp, returns to Issaquah

October 25, 2011

Issaquah church hosts homeless encampment until late January

Amalie Easter helps move pallets as another Tent City 4 resident carries a plywood sheet during the move from Bellevue to Community Church of Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Tent City 4 returned Oct. 21, as teams started the long process to transform a church parking lot into a camp for up to 100 homeless adults.

In a scene familiar to church members and Squak Mountain neighbors, Tent City 4 residents assembled pallets and plywood floorboards in a careful arrangement on the rain-slicked asphalt.

The crowd bustled, as camp residents and local church members, clad in raincoats and plastic ponchos, unloaded a truck and prepared spaces for nylon tents.

“We got the Hilton!” a man shouted from the truck gate. “Where do you want it?”

Only the Hilton is not a luxury hotel, but a repurposed military tent — and a sleeping place for male residents during the 90-day stint at Community Church of Issaquah. The encampment is due to depart Issaquah in late January.

The move to Issaquah represented a milestone for Tent City 4 resident Amalie Easter. The encampment relocated to the church hours before the last Issaquah High School regular season football game — and Easter’s son plays for the Eagles. Until Tent City 4 reached Issaquah, attending home games posed a challenge.

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Issaquah remains in same County Council district under proposal

September 27, 2011

Issaquah remains in the same King County Council district under a plan released Sept. 27 from the citizen panel responsible for redrawing the local political map.

The proposal, like the existing arrangement, keeps Issaquah proper inside District 3 and most rural areas south of city limits in District 9. The plan also shifts some areas southeast of Issaquah from District 9 into District 3.

The proposal for redrawn King County Council districts keeps Issaquah in District 3. Contributed

(The county is carved into nine districts, each represented by a single council member.)

In a unanimous decision Sept. 26, King County Districting Committee members agreed to release a final proposal for public comment and review. The plan must be approved by Jan. 15 for the 2012 elections.

Under the law, districts must be drawn as contiguous areas and be as nearly equal in population as possible. The population data cannot be used to favor or disadvantage any racial group or political party.

“This redistricting plan was carefully drafted to balance population, meet legal requirements and incorporate the public input we received,” committee Chairman Terrence Carroll, a retired King County Superior Court judge, said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate the committee members’ hard work and their willingness to come together to find solutions that serve the people of King County.”

Citizens can comment on the proposal at a public hearing Nov. 1. The committee gathered input at a series of public meetings before releasing the proposal. The next hearing is the last step before the committee acts on the proposed map.

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Suspected drug dealer pleads not guilty in overdose death case

August 30, 2011

The man suspected of selling a fatal dose of heroin to a 19-year-old Issaquah High School graduate pleaded not guilty to a drug homicide charge Aug. 18.

Prosecutors said Adam F. Pepka, 20, sold the heroin Zachary Lyter injected May 3. Investigators said Lyter later died from a heroin overdose. Lyter’s father discovered the former Issaquah High football player dead at the Bellevue home they shared the next day.

Pepka’s case-setting hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1.

The suspected dealer faces a charge for controlled substances homicide, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. Under state law, a controlled substances homicide is treated similar to manslaughter.

In order to convict Pepka, prosecutors must prove he sold the fatal dose of heroin to Lyter. Investigators said Pepka continued to sell heroin after learning about Lyter’s death from a 17-year-old girl.

Suspected heroin dealer faces homicide charge

August 16, 2011

Issaquah graduate died from drug overdose

King County prosecutors have filed a seldom-used drug homicide charge against a Seattle man accused of selling a fatal dose of heroin to a former Issaquah High School student.

Zachary Lyter

Prosecutors said Adam F. Pepka, 20, sold the heroin Zachary Lyter injected May 3. Investigators said Lyter later died from a heroin overdose. Lyter’s father discovered the former Issaquah High football player dead at the Bellevue home they shared the next day.

Investigators later determined his blood contained overdose levels of opiates. Police said Lyter admitted his drug problem to family members not long before he died. Officers discovered syringes and drug paraphernalia in his room during the investigation.

Pepka faces a charge for controlled substances homicide, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. Under state law, a controlled substances homicide is treated similar to manslaughter.

In order to convict Pepka, prosecutors must prove he sold the fatal dose of heroin to Lyter. Investigators said Pepka continued to sell heroin after learning about Lyter’s death from a 17-year-old girl.

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Local cell tower projects clear King County hurdle

August 16, 2011

The separate proposals to add equipment to cell towers in Issaquah and May Valley cleared a regulatory hurdle in early August. So, too, did a proposal to construct a cell tower in Klahanie Park near Challenger Elementary School.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to add three antennae, six remote radio heads and a surge protector to the cabinet on the Issaquah and May Valley towers.

Crews intend to add equipment on the existing towers near the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club, 23600 S.E. Evans St., and 18011 S.E. Renton-Issaquah Road, less than a half-mile southwest of the intersection of the street and Southeast May Valley Road.

The county permitting agency is handling the application for the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club site because the shooting range is a county island surrounded by Issaquah and is near Issaquah High School.

The telecommunications company also intends to build the Klahanie Park tower. Plans call for cedar fences of up to 6 feet tall to ring the base.

County planners determined the projects do not require environmental impact statements — a thorough review to assess how a project could impact the surrounding environment.

The decision, or determination of nonsignificance in planning parlance, is not the last step in the process. The county must still issue building permits for the projects.

Residents opposed to any of the cell tower projects cannot appeal to the Department of Development and Environmental Services, but instead must direct appeals to King County Superior Court.

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