Next King County sheriff faces tough decisions to reform agency

October 16, 2012

The contest to lead the King County Sheriff’s Office could hinge on a series of audits into how the agency operates.

The sheriff oversees a budget of about $150 million and about 1,000 employees, and leads the largest local police organization in the state after the Seattle Police Department.

John Urquhart

Steve Strachan

The contentious race pits Sheriff Steve Strachan, a former Kent police chief, against John Urquhart, a former sheriff’s office sergeant and spokesman.

King County Council members appointed Strachan as sheriff in April, not long after former Sheriff Sue Rahr resigned to lead the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, or state police academy.

Though the election is to fill the Rahr’s unexpired term through 2013, the next sheriff faces a landmark effort to reform the agency in response to audits critical of policies put into place under Strachan’s predecessors.

Strachan, a SeaTac resident, served as a police chief and state legislator in Minnesota before accepting the Kent post in 2006. In the Minnesota Legislature, he helped pass legislation to reduce the blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 percent. Rahr tapped Strachan as the chief deputy, or No. 2 spot, at the sheriff’s office in early 2011.

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U.S. attorney highlights online safety as students return to school

August 28, 2012

The top federal prosecutor in the region reminded parents Aug. 20 to keep children safe online, especially as students return to school.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington and Issaquah native, sent information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in the region, so the material can be placed into students’ information packets or posted on school websites.

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U.S. attorney highlights online safety as students return to school

August 21, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 21, 2012

The top federal prosecutor in the region reminded parents Monday to keep children safe online, especially as students return to school.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington and Issaquah native, sent information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in the region, so the material can be placed into students’ information packets or posted on school websites.

Recent data indicates 13 percent of elementary school children have received some type of sexual solicitation or approach through the Internet.

“We need to protect our kids in the virtual world. Modern technology gives us many ways to learn and stay connected,” Durkan said in a statement “But it can also make our children vulnerable to predators and con artists.”

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Governor appoints Issaquah High School alumna, former county executive to WSU board

January 17, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Issaquah High School graduate Ryan Durkan, a Seattle attorney, and former King County Executive Ron Sims to the Washington State University Board of Regents, Gregoire announced Dec. 14.

The board acts as the university’s governing body. Regents supervise, coordinate, manage and regulate the WSU system.

Durkan, a WSU alumna, is a respected attorney at HCMP Law Offices specializing in real estate, land use and environmental law. (Ryan Durkan’s sister is Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington.)

“Ryan has proven she’s passionate about the importance of education — serving on the board of trustees for an elementary school, a middle school and a high school,” Gregoire said in a statement. “Her experience improving our education system, combined with her legal background and her commitment to community, make her a natural fit.”

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Governor appoints Issaquah High School graduate, former county executive to WSU board

December 14, 2011

NEW — 2:15 p.m. Dec. 14, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Issaquah High School graduate Ryan Durkan, a Seattle attorney, and former King County Executive Ron Sims to the Washington State University Board of Regents, Gregoire announced Wednesday.

The board acts as the university’s governing body. Regents supervise, coordinate, manage and regulate the WSU system.

Durkan, a WSU alumna, is a respected attorney at HCMP Law Offices specializing in real estate, land use and environmental law. (Ryan Durkan’s sister is Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington.)

“Ryan has proven she’s passionate about the importance of education — serving on the board of trustees for an elementary school, a middle school and a high school,” Gregoire said in a statement. “Her experience improving our education system, combined with her legal background and her commitment to community, make her a natural fit.”

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Local medical marijuana operations unaffected by DEA raids

November 22, 2011

Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement officers raided more than a dozen medical marijuana operations in Western Washington on Nov. 15, but the sweep did not affect collectives in Issaquah and Preston.

The operation targeted at least 14 medical marijuana operations in King, Pierce and Thurston counties. Overall, authorities arrested more than a dozen people.

Officials said the operations targeted in the raids failed to meet state guidelines or used the state medical marijuana law as cover to make illegal sales.

“Our job is to enforce federal criminal laws. In doing so, we always prioritize and focus our resources,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment.”

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Local medical marijuana operations unaffected by DEA raids

November 16, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011

Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement officers raided more than a dozen medical marijuana operations in Western Washington on Tuesday, but the sweep did not affect collectives in Issaquah and Preston.

The operation targeted at least 14 medical marijuana operations in King, Pierce and Thurston counties. Overall, authorities arrested more than a dozen people.

Officials said the operations targeted in the raids failed to meet state guidelines or used the state medical marijuana law as cover to make illegal sales.

“Our job is to enforce federal criminal laws. In doing so, we always prioritize and focus our resources,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment.”

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Prosecutors crack down on ATM skimming

September 27, 2011

Federal authorities urged consumers to remain vigilant for devices attached to ATMs for skimming — using high-tech equipment to steal bank account information.

Thieves install high-tech devices on ATMs to collect account information and personal-information numbers from consumers. The setup usually includes a tiny camera aimed at the ATM keypad to record consumers’ entries and a storage device to record the numbers from thousands of cards.

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Issaquah man faces state, federal charges in ATM skimming scheme

September 13, 2011

Prosecutors said a local man arrested in Eastern Washington for collecting card information at a Pasco ATM is connected to a scheme responsible for skimming more than $500,000 at ATMs across the West.

Issaquah resident Mihai Elekes, 34, faces state and federal charges because prosecutors said he placed a device on a Chase Bank ATM to read customers’ debit and credit card numbers.

The state charge in Franklin County Superior Court is for the unlawful factoring of transactions charge related to the ATM skimming incident.

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Darigold pleads guilty in Issaquah Creek spill case

June 21, 2011

Darigold pleaded guilty June 15 to violating the Clean Water Act for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Darigold plans to work alongside the federal government to develop a corporate environmental compliance plan as part of its sentence.

Including the downtown Issaquah processing facility, Seattle-based Darigold operates 13 processing facilities in five states.

The company must also pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed. Darigold also agreed to publicly apologize for the criminal conduct by publishing a statement as a notice or advertisement in The Issaquah Press.

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