Cop Watch

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Oakland police officer arrested for touching women

OAKLAND, Calif. The Oakland Police Department says it is charging one of its own police officers with inappropriate behavior toward women. That includes "patting" and kissing several women he pulled over in their cars.

Authorities say 51-year-old officer Richard Valerga was charged with seven misdemeanor counts Wednesday. Five of the charges were for interference of civil rights, and two for false imprisonment, which police say stem from Valerga's holding two women against their will.

Officer arrested for drug trafficking

Known drug traffickers were seeking out one of Honolulu's finest to help move their meth.

That's the word from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration tonight.

The latest police officer charged with trafficking ice is accused of providing the means and the muscle for known drug dealers to do their jobs.

James Leslie Corn, Jr. turns 27 this week. If found guilty, he will be 37 before he can hope to get out of prison.

Corn was picked up after undercover agents arranged for him to accept a backpack carrying two pounds of crystal methamphetamine.

"Mr. Corn was assisting several documented, identified, known drug traffickers, using his position of public trust to provide inside information as well as providing security in several drug transactions," says Tony Williams, DEA agent in charge.

Based on Corn's alleged confession, the lure of easy money and a personal cocaine habit contributed to his downfall.

In three years on the police force, Corn already had been in trouble for threatening people. Honolulu police helped the local/federal task force make this case.

Corn is also said to have accessed police computers that contain personal data about people, and to have sold one dealer an unregistered gun.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bad Cop, No Donut! - August 25/2005

Download audio: MP3 at 43.9 mebibytes (download torrent)

This week:

LAPD handcuff 7 year old

California cop arrested for child molestation

Chicago cop asks women to expose breasts

Chicago cops abuse shoplifting suspects

Indiana cop gets 40 years for child molestation

Michigan cop sexually abuses a minor

Louisiana police chief caught selling crack

Texas cop gets probation for sex abuse of 14 year old relative

and more!

PLUS an interview with Alysha Rodriguez, who was sexually assaulted by Whitehall, Wisconsin, police officer Daniel Wineski when she was 14 years old.

Police killings (interviews with family members)

Download audio: MP3 at 35.4 mebibytes (download torrent)

Family & Freinds of two people killed by police
Sue Reardeed mother of Eric Kleemeyer killed by Santa Clara police
January 4th 2005 also Anita Martinez family freind of Samuel Martinez killed by San Jose Police on may 26 2005 Also updates from behind bars Jail the Oppressor Free the Oppressed airs on Free Radio Santa Cruz every 2nd Saturday at 5:30 tune in 101fm or streaming live at

Also read:

Police on steroids:
An emerging problem

PETERSBURG -- Around midnight, Oct. 13, 2003, Petersburg police officers Michael A. Tweedy and David E. House stopped a driver to question him about a hit-and-run incident.

The driver, a meat worker named Lamont Cortez Koonce, ran away but was eventually tackled and doused with pepper spray.

As Koonce was on the ground and House was trying to handcuff him, authorities said, Tweedy accidentally sprayed himself and went into a rage.

According to Koonce's attorney, Tweedy kicked and stomped on Koonce's head repeatedly, walking away and then returning to continue the blows as Koonce lay motionless, gurgling his own blood.

Man Claims Boulder Deputies Beat Him

Malveaux Believes Treatment Was Racially Motivated

A big, brawny former football player is claiming that officers used excessive force during a traffic stop when they allegedly punched him, kicked him and shocked him with a Taser gun.

David Malveaux, 24, was one of five passengers in a car that was stopped early Saturday morning while officers were investigating a burglary case.

The driver and another passenger were arrested for investigation of burglary after stolen property was recovered from the vehicle. Malveaux was also taken into custody because he was being uncooperative, Boulder Sheriff's Lt. Phil West said.

"Mr. Malveaux did not cooperate with deputies' instructions to exit the car, was verbally abusive and physically resisted them. Deputies were forced to deploy a conductive energy device (Taser) in order to gain control of Mr. Malveaux. He was taken into custody and lodged at the Boulder County Jail on the misdemeanor obstruction charge," West said.

Malveaux, who is a 6 feet 6 inches tall, 250-pound black man, told the Daily Camera that this was "the worst I've been beaten. It seemed like something racial to me."

West Haven cop off duty after Milford arrest

Milford police spokesman Officer Vaughan Dumas would reveal few details about the arrest late Saturday of seven-year West Haven police Officer David Hancock Jr., but did say that Hancock was "tasered" while resisting "police efforts to remove him from the area."

Police officer faces sex assault charges

A police officer was charged with having sex with a girl from the time before she entered elementary school until she turned 14, police said.

Frederick Livingston, an Edgewood police officer, was ordered to stand trial on charges of statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of children, rape and corruption of minors following a preliminary hearing this week.

Rave Party Guests Claim Excessive Force from SWAT

Watch Video

(ABC 4 News) -- Rave party guests from around the world claim the Utah County Sheriff used excessive force to break up a party in Spanish Fork Canyon last Saturday night, and they may seek redress in federal court.

Still, the Utah County Sheriff's department stands behind its officers and said the video proves the accusations are false.

About 90 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies broke up what they said was a rave party on public and private property in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon.

Utah County Sheriff's Sergeant Darren Gilbert said they made about 60 arrests for weapons offenses, driving under the influence, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.

Officers found cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, mushrooms, alcohol and large amounts of drug paraphernalia.

Gilbert said a 17-year-old West Jordan girl was found overdosed on Ecstasy, and was treated and released to her parents. He said there were more than 250 people at the party. That is the number for which the county requires a permit, bond and county commission approval. Gilbert said the party did not have that approval.

Jonathan Meader and Lucinda Davies were at the Spanish Fork rave. They said part of the thrill comes not knowing where they will hold the rave until the last minute.

"The raving is a celebration of being alive, and people choose to use drugs sometimes, and lots of people don't. There are so many people that do not use drugs at these parties because we go for the music and we go for the people and we go for the family," Meader said.

Meader and Davies claim the organizers of the rave party did a good job to create a safe environment and watched in shock as 90 officers in SWAT gear converged on the crowd.

"It was like they were expecting a riot or a war," Davies said.

Meader claimed the officers hit people with the butts of their guns.
Accusations of police brutality flood the internet on a well organized international rave network. Photos of the party and accusations against officers came as far as England and Australia.
Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy denied the accusations. He said undercover officers purchased a large quantity of drugs at the party, justifying the police raid and the 60 arrests.

Salt Lake Attorney Brian Barnard plans to seek redress in federal court.

"It makes absolutely no sense at all to crash the party two hours into the event and to come in like storm troopers," Barnard said.

Tracy said none of the photos or video shows any misconduct by his officers. He will have an outside agency investigate any formal complaints made by those arrested at the rave party. So far, Tracy has only received anonymous emails and phone calls.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bakersfield Police Officer Arrested

BAKERSFIELD -- A Bakersfield Police officer is in jail after being arrested by the Kern County Sheriff's Department on several charges of child abuse and domestic violence.

Officer Ryan Floyd was arrested by deputies following a five-month investigation.

The Sheriff's Department says they launched the investigation when a 13-year old female victim came forward and told investigators of incidents of molestation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Police attack protesters with tasers and dogs

Police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania used tasers, attack dogs and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of nonviolent protesters who had organized to shut down the local military recruiting station. Here is video of a woman, already subdued on the ground and surrounded by police officers, being shot with a taser. A 68 year old woman was bitten by a police dog and hospitalized. There were several other hospitalizations and at least six arrests. See Pittsburgh IMC for non-corporate coverage.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bad Cop, No Donut - August 18/2005

Download audio: MP3 at 28.9 mebibytes (download torrent)

This week:

California cops steal soda-pop at mall

2 cop sex assault lawsuits settled in Eugene, Oregon

Missouri cop impersonates an officer in Kansas

Michigan cop kills himself after child molestation acusation

Ohio cop suspended for coaine use

New Jersey cop steals wristbands from water park

Pennsylvania cop accused of raping 14 year old

North Carolina cop steals weed trimmer

2 Texas cops arrested for sex with minor

Toronto cop sexually assaults woman at gunpoint

and much more!

Runs 31:34

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Former Clover police officer arrested

A former Clover police officer has been charged with obstruction of justice and misconduct in office after investigators say he kept stolen jewelry found after a traffic stop for a few months.

The rings went missing after Hemen Edward Gower chased and caught a man who had robbed a Clover jewelry store, police said.

One of the stolen rings was recovered at the scene, but Gower didn't turn in the other jewelry until months later, police Lt. Randall Horn said.

"He said he found the rings near the arrest site a few months after the arrest," Horn said.

Gower, 50, turned himself in Friday, police said.

He was fired from the force three months ago for unrelated reasons, Horn said.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Report says Florida leads nation ini Taser-associated deaths

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. A newspaper report says that Florida leads the nation in Taser associated deaths with 27 over a five-year period.

Mesa police kill man charging them in car

A 32-year-old Mesa man was shot and killed by police Saturday after they say he killed his neighbor and attacked his mother with a rock.

Jefferson County deputy charged with stealing from drug suspect

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) _ A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy faces a felony larceny charge for stealing money from a drug suspect.

Former detective Gregory Bush was indicted Friday on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny and official misconduct. He pleaded not guilty.

City settles two suits with women abused by cops

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The city of Eugene paid more than $700,000 to settle lawsuits filed by two women sexually assaulted by former police officers.

Eleven additional women still have suits pending against the city. Dennis Taylor, the city manager, said Thursday he wants the suits settled out of court to spare the victims from going through a trial.

Aurora cop could face charges

An Aurora police officer faces possible felony charges for allegedly pointing a handgun at a suspect already in custody, handcuffed and sitting in a squad car.

Self-defense drill draws police response

A family vacation for Scott Turner, owner of Turner's Taekwondo Inc., came to a quick end when he received a call from one of his instructors saying his students, practicing gun self-defense, had just been handcuffed and held on the ground at gunpoint by Albany police.

"I thought they were joking," Turner said Thursday. But he soon realized there was truth to the story.

The students were detained briefly at the scene but then released with citations for disorderly conduct.

Turner, who says he has respect for the police department and understands why officers responded the way they did, doesn't understand why citations were issued.

According to an Albany police report, the department received one call from a driver on Queen Avenue reporting an armed disturbance at about 7 p.m. July 29, near the Four Seasons Car Wash, 1070 Queen Ave. S.E.

Police Capt. Ben Atchley said Friday the department may have received other calls as well.

What people saw, Turner said, was five students and an instructor participating in a martial arts exercise in an alley behind Karate For Kids, 1711 Hill St. S.E.

The students were practicing Krav Maga, a martial art that teaches, among other tactics, how to defend against someone approaching with a gun or knife, Turner explained.

The students, ages 17 to 45, were practicing with air soft guns, which were marked to signify they were unloaded or being used for practice, Turner said.

"Officers arrived on scene and observed people who appeared to have weapons in the back alley," Atchley said Friday.

The officers thought they had a possible robbery or gang activity, according to the police report.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bad Cop, No Donut! - August 11/2005

Download audio: MP3 at 28.5 mebibytes (download torrent)

This week:

New Orleans cop sentenced to death

4 new taser deaths

and much more!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Officer willfully damages someone's property

Brian Lithicum, 33, was working an accident involving an over turned vehicle on May 29 in the 12600 block of Red Bluff Road.

Another officer on the scene reported seeing him throw a pair of shoes in the water from the vehicle, according to Sgt. Mike Baird, a spokesman for Pasadena police.

Witnesses also reported Lithicum took a radio out of the overturned vehicle and placed it so it would be damaged when the wrecker moved it, Baird added.

Lithicum also reportedly requested the Pasadena Fire Department use hydraulic extrication equipment for no apparent reason, Baird said.

Lithicum was indicted Thursday in the 338 District Court and released on a $5,000 bond. He was suspended with pay Friday.

Medical Examiner Rules Homicide In Taser Death Case

HOUSTON -- The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office has determined homicide, not a Taser gun, was the cause of a death for man who died after authorities shot him with the stun gun, Local 2 reported Tuesday.

The medical examiner ruled Joel Casey's death as psychotic delirium with associated hypertensive disease.

Casey, 52, died in February after deputy constables with the Harris County Precinct 1's mental health unit used the stun gun to take him into custody outside his home in the 4700 block of Meyerwood.

Casey's mother -- who called authorities and asked for help getting her son to a hospital so he could receive treatment for his schizophrenia -- claimed authorities used unnecessary force, which led to his death.

Authorities investigating the case said the two officers who responded to the call were not aware that Casey had a weak heart. His heart stopped beating after he was shot with the 50,000-volt Taser gun; however, preliminary autopsy results indicated the stun gun did not kill him.

Early autopsy results showed Casey had a broken hyoid bone, which could be an indication that he suffocated or was strangled to death.

The hyoid is a horseshoe-shaped bone located near the windpipe that supports the muscles of the tongue. A broken hyoid bone is often found in strangulation victims, according to Joe Owmby of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Statements by the arresting officer and at least one witness did not mention force applied to Casey's throat during the fight.

The Harris County District Attorney will now decide whether or not to file charges in the case.

Investigators said Casey had a history of mental illness.

Previous Stories:

Man burned when Kenosha police use Taser, pepper spray

A 28-year-old man sustained minor burns when Kenosha police officers used both a Taser and pepper spray while trying to subdue him during a struggle, authorities say.

Police Lt. John Morrissey said Wednesday that departmental policy prohibits using of both pepper spray and a Taser simultaneously, but one officer used the spray and another the stun gun and authorities were still investigating whether the policy had been violated.

Lloyd A. King of Racine sustained minor burns to his head and torso from a flash fire during the Aug. 1 incident, and he was treated at a hospital and released, Morrissey said.

Police officer arrested for unlawful conduct towards a child

Columbia - August 8, 2005 - Columbia Police Department patrol officer Michael Antonio Giddens, 22, was arrested late Sunday night by the Richland County Sheriff's Office for unlawful conduct towards a child.

The sheriff's department was contacted by the Palmetto Baptist Hospital on Sunday after they discovered suspicious injuries to a four month old boy who was brought in.

Investigators believe sometime Saturday, while the mother was at work, Giddens spanked the child and dropped him to the floor. Deputies say when she got home, she changed the baby's diaper and noticed bruising on his buttocks and face.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cop Arrested After Allegedly Exposing Himself

OCEAN CITY, Md. -- Police arrested a New Jersey police officer on an indecent exposure charge after people complained the man was standing naked in front of his hotel room window.

Edison, N.J., police officer David Salardino, 32, and a friend, Brian J. Rossmeyer, were arrested about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Several people had complained that two nude men were visible through the window of their room at the 112th Street Comfort Inn. The hotel's night manager told police that when he went outside of the building and looked up, "he was able to clearly see full frontal nudity as Salardino stood fully exposed in front of the hotel room window," according to a police report.

"Salardino was attempting to 'show off' by flexing as he stood naked in front of the window in order to attract the attention of the people on the sidewalk in front of the hotel," the report said.

Witnesses told police they also saw Rossmeyer expose himself for a brief period of time.

When officers went to the room, Salardino identified himself as a police officer and denied the accusations. After police told him about the several witnesses they had talked to, "he apologized and said he took full responsibility for what happened ... he never actually admitted to exposing himself," the report said.

Lake City officer arrested

EFFINGHAM - A Lake City Police sergeant whose law enforcement certification was suspended last month was arrested Wednesday afternoon by state authorities.

Sgt. Shanita McKnight was taken into custody by State Law Enforcement Division agents and taken to the Florence County Detention Center in Effingham about 4 p.m.

Bad Cop, No Donut! - August 04/2005

Download audio: MP3 at 29.1 mebibytes (download torrent)

This week:

Louisiana cop arrested for drug possession

North Dakota cop leads police on high speed chase

Pennsylvania cop beats wife

Ohio police cover catholic sex abuse

New Jersey cop runs over married boyfriend

Maryland cop sexually abuses 13 year-old boy

Tasers kill

and much more!

Conduct Unbecoming: The case is killed

This is the third of three parts. See Part One and Part Two.

"Justice was served," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng insisted. But few others involved in the investigation of former King County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Ring would agree.

In short order, Ring went from facing a felony trial and a firing recommendation to a prosperous retirement -- disgusting and demoralizing the rank-and-file investigators and prosecutors who pursued him, as well as many of his fellow King County officers.


By mid-2003, the clandestine investigation had been under way for nearly two years, and there was no end in sight. Investigators were still chasing down leads on several fronts -- allegations that the veteran intelligence-unit detective had bought drugs, stolen money from an old man, helped prostitutes evade prosecution and stalked his ex-wife using law-enforcement computers.

So when higher-ups made a decision that the drug case would be dropped, it was a disappointment to the investigators.

Far bigger disappointments would follow.

The decision on the drug case was the first indication that the cops on the street were viewing the Ring case far differently from their superiors in the Sheriff's Office and the county prosecutor's office.

Everybody agreed the case would have been stronger if drugs had been seized, but a sting operation that would lure Ring into a drug deal was rendered impossible when Ring's boss, Sgt. Ray Green, alerted him to his wife's internal-affairs complaint of drug use and assault, several investigators said. Green said he doesn't recollect doing that.

"I can't recall ever prosecuting a case where we didn't have a controlled substance," said King County's Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson.

Mark Larsen
ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
"I think there was this notion, 'What if he were just to resign?' " King County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson says. "What if he just left? ... I think that was a good outcome, on the merits."

Acknowledging it was a tough call, lower-level prosecutors and investigators still argued that if homicides can be prosecuted without a body, then drug charges against someone in a sensitive position such as Ring could be pursued without drugs in evidence.

"We had a lot of circumstantial evidence," said Seattle police Sgt. Mike Hay, who had helped put the drug case together. "That evidence included the person that set up the transaction, and the person that completed the transaction with (Ring) on several occasions. And we did have cell phone evidence, as well. We also had his wife telling us they had consumed the drugs, and that the purchases were made."

The abandonment of drug charges was just the beginning. By early 2004, the FBI would be excluded from the inquiry, the lead King County investigator would be ousted and the case would be hurried and pared down to two charges, theft and stalking. A year later, after promoting prostitution and official misconduct were added, the entire case would be killed.

Former Sheriff Dave Reichert admitted he was feeling impatient with the Ring case as it continued through the fall of 2003. The congressman didn't recall exactly when he pushed to end the investigation, but said, "I do remember being very frustrated with the time frame."

Reichert's political stock was skyrocketing. Many mentioned the possibility of higher political office for him as the world-famous Green River serial murder case came to a successful conclusion under his leadership.

By December 2003, Reichert was making behind-the-scenes arrangements with a publisher to write a book about the Green River case with a ghostwriter, a book that would portray Reichert as a dogged lead investigator while the FBI was described as an impediment in the case.

Soon he would be running for Congress. Reichert had previously been touted as a potential candidate for governor, but when U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn decided not to run for re-election from the district where Reichert lived, his political path was clear.

Pressure to wrap it up

December and January saw major changes in the Ring investigation, instituted by Reichert and his top administrators.

Two new investigators were added to the case, fraud-unit Detectives Robin Ostrum, a specialist in domestic violence, and Ed Ka. Also added to the mix was Capt. Mitzi Johanknecht, then section commander of criminal investigations.

Previously, the investigators had reported up a chain of command to Chief Fae Brooks.

Reichert wanted the case wrapped up quickly -- perhaps too quickly.

Some said Johanknecht had to intervene to buy her investigators more time. The fraud investigators were new to the case, and needed time to reinterview people, and there were still holes.

Johanknecht declined to take credit for that, but said, speaking hypothetically: "I would have communicated with the sheriff and my chief at the time to say, 'This is where we are in the investigation, and here is what we need.' We would have reached a compromise to meet the needs of the investigation and the detectives."

In mid-January, just before Ring was arrested, investigators recall a meeting where Reichert announced that the FBI no longer would be involved in the Ring case. He asked whether federal charges were contemplated and when the obvious answer was no, he said the agency wouldn't be needed anymore.

Dropping the FBI led to agent Gary Pilawski being ousted from the case after two years of work.

Days later, Johanknecht and others announced at another meeting the plan for Ring's arrest, and Pilawski and his King County counterpart, Sgt. Rob Mathis, were shocked to discover they weren't included in the plans.

"It was my impression that we were essentially cut out of the investigation," said Mark Ferbrache, supervisory special agent in charge of the FBI's Seattle public corruption and white-collar crime squad. "We were through. It was over."

"I don't remember that at all," Reichert said. "I don't know what you are talking about. As far as I knew, when I left the Sheriff's Office, the FBI was involved in the investigation. My only frustration with the FBI was that they were taking too long."

Records indicate the FBI's active role in the investigation came to an abrupt end in January 2004, nearly a year before Reichert left the department, though testimony by the lead agent would still be needed.

'What happened?'

Mathis, of the Sheriff's Office, was also gone. "I gave it everything," said Mathis, who spent two years on the investigation, with the last six months full time. "I've been a cop almost 20 years and I've never been treated the way I was treated.

"Every step of the way I did what I was told and reported everything I did. One day I'm removed and I'm not told anything,"

"I had detectives coming up to me and asking 'What happened?' and I can't give them an answer," added Mathis, who was ultimately transferred from internal affairs to patrol with a cut in pay.

"Rob did a tremendous job," the SPD's Hay said. "He was a pit bull. I felt he knew this case inside and out. I felt personally it was a substantial blow to the case when he was removed."

"It was my impression that Rob was kicked to the curb like the red-headed kid," Ostrum said.

Hay added that the other investigators on the case -- Ostrum and Ka included -- did "an outstanding job. I don't want anybody to say they screwed this case up, because they didn't."

Ferbrache said there wasn't much the FBI could do when it was pushed out, because it had been invited by Reichert in the first place to participate in the investigation. Also, the potential crimes uncovered were state, not federal, law violations. But he wanted to know why the FBI was cut out. Pilawski then asked Johanknecht to explain.

"She just said this is the way we are going to do it," Ferbrache recalled. "There was no attempt to explain to my agent the reason for their decision. I felt entitled to an explanation because we had spent considerable time and resources in the matter, at their request."

When asked by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Johanknecht said she couldn't recall the meeting where Reichert cut out the FBI without going back and "looking at the particulars."

Asked to do so, she said, "I don't keep records or notes when I'm at a meeting. I'm an auditory learner."

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart confirmed that Reichert kicked the FBI -- and Mathis -- off the case. He said the reason was Reichert's concern over how long the investigation was taking.

Reichert bristled when a reporter asked him whether his political future played any role in his desire to put the Ring investigation on a fast track.

"It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach that people would point at Dave Reichert, after 33 years in the King County Sheriff's Office, almost losing my life," he said. "To have someone even ask that question of me, it's offensive, very offensive."

Arrest at the airport

The FBI still had a cameo role the day of Ring's arrest. An agent was monitoring the undercover camera aimed at Ring's house from a telephone pole early that morning when he noticed Ring was going to his car, with his girlfriend Rebecca Rose, carrying a suitcase. The agent tried to warn King County deputies, but for unknown reasons the person he called wasn't where he expected her to be. Deputies following Ring lost him.

The night before, Ring had been instructed by his boss, Green, to report at 7 a.m. for a meeting at the Sheriff's Office, where sheriff's officers planned to arrest Ring. Ring called back later that evening to tell Green there was a family emergency in California, and that he would be flying south. Airlines were alerted to notify the county if Ring tried to board a flight.

He was arrested in the Southwest Airlines baggage claim area early on the morning of Jan. 28, 2004. He said very little to investigators after the arrest, though he was heard muttering "pernicious" under his breath -- a term he had used for his ex-wife, Janine Taylor.

Ring was charged on Jan. 30, in King County Superior Court, with first-degree theft for allegedly swindling an elderly Seattle man named Orie John "O.J." Morrison, and attempted stalking for searching for his ex-wife Taylor. He was released on $100,000 bail, and continued to receive his $80,000-a-year pay pending trial.

Early on after charges were filed, the prosecutor's office played its case against Ring like it was a sure winner, prevailing on every key motion argued before the judge.

Six months after charges were filed, the prosecutor's office sent Ring's attorney, Richard Hansen, a letter threatening to add new charges against Ring of conspiracy to promote prostitution and official misconduct if Ring didn't plead guilty to theft and attempted stalking, for each of which he would receive 90 days in jail, to be served consecutively.

Ring didn't bite.

"Attempted stalking is like walking into a grocery store and being arrested for thinking about shoplifting," he said.

When the criminal charges were filed, the King County Sheriff's Office also launched a new internal investigation into Ring's behavior. The new inquiry looked at a slew of his alleged transgressions against the badge, including dishonesty, criminal conduct, conduct unbecoming, failure to obey laws and orders, inappropriate use of authority, ethics violations, misuse of his department vehicle and misuse of Internet and e-mail.

On Oct. 28, 2004, internal investigations Capt. Cameron K. Webster recommended that Ring be placed on unpaid leave, which was initially approved and then rescinded a short time later because of objections from the King County Police Officers Guild.

'Clear and convincing'

Webster wrote in his report that there was "clear and convincing evidence" of 15 misconduct allegations against Ring.

Sue Rahr
ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
"I decided to enter into the settlement agreement because it was the only way to guarantee (Dan Ring) would not be a police officer again," Sheriff Sue Rahr says. "... I wasn't willing to take the risk of having this guy back."

The case was still pending when Reichert was elected to Congress in November 2004, handpicking Sue Rahr as his interim replacement. She was then the field operations chief.

Reichert didn't do anything to discipline Ring before he left office, but he claimed he would have canned him had he not run out of time.

"When I left, my intent was to fire him," Reichert said. "I hate to be in disagreement with the sheriff (Rahr). She may have more information than I did when I left. When I left it was my feeling they should go forward with the charges that they had. I believe he should have been charged."

A few weeks after Rahr was appointed sheriff on Jan. 18, 2005, King County prosecutors filed amended criminal charges against Ring. They added conspiracy to promote prostitution in the second degree for the frequent assistance he gave to two Seattle-area escort services, and official misconduct for using restricted databases to hunt for Taylor and gather information on others. Detectives Ostrum and Ka, as well as others, had continued to work on the escort-service angle during 2004.

Key to understanding what happened next is recognizing that the Ring investigation was being pursued on two fronts: The criminal investigation and the internal Sheriff's Office inquiry.

Law enforcement departments usually let the criminal investigation run its course before taking an internal investigation to a hearing, but in this case it was done in reverse.

Seattle Police Officers Guild Vice President Rich O'Neill said such hearings on internal investigations cases in his department almost always are held only after any parallel criminal case against an officer has gone to trial.

Told generally about how, in the Ring case, that sequence occurred in reverse, O'Neill, a 25-year police officer, said: "Wow. That's different. I've never heard of that before."

Call for firing fails

The internal investigation was brought to a hearing before Rahr on March 28, a month before Ring's trial was to begin. That became a turning point for Ring.

Webster's investigation had been reviewed by Criminal Investigations Division Chief Pat Lee, and just three weeks before the hearing, Lee had recommended forcefully that Rahr fire Ring. He sustained all but one of Webster's allegations.

Lee, a 30-year veteran, wrote that Ring's "pattern of behavior ... was not commensurate with the core values of the sheriff's department."

But at the hearing, Rahr contravened Lee's recommendation. She sustained 10 of the 15 allegations against Ring. They included conduct unbecoming for his actions the night he showed up at escort-service operator Lisa Gorrin's doorstep drunk, distraught and demanding a bath; inappropriate use of authority for his efforts to track down Taylor and for allowing his girlfriend Rose access to a confidential undercover sheriff's mailbox; ethics violations for his relationship with Gorrin; misuse of a department vehicle in trips to Canada and misuse of department Internet and e-mail for ordering an adult video using his official computer and storing personal photos.

But allegations key to the criminal case were not sustained.

Rahr and King County Police Officer's Guild President Steve Eggert got together after the hearing to work out a settlement agreement with Ring, independent of the prosecutor's office. Rahr and Eggert had worked closely together in the past, and the sheriff said they had good rapport.

The deal would allow Ring to retire Nov. 26, after he turns 50, a delay that made him eligible for more retirement pay. Ring said it will give him $3,500 a month for life, starting as soon as he retires.

"Thirty-five hundred dollars a month the rest of my life. I can scrape by on that," he said.

Robin Ostrum
ZoomMike Urban / P-I
"I'm very dismayed. I know we had a case. I know we had probable cause," King County Sheriff's Detective Robin Ostrum says. "Nothing that we filed charges on doesn't have a mountain of documentation to back it up."

Ring would be placed on unpaid leave, but granted vacation and sick pay equivalent to his salary until Nov. 26, and he'd also receive anything left over. Ring has been receiving a full salary or its equivalent since his arrest, without working, and will continue receiving it until Thanksgiving.

King County also would pay his legal fees, which Ring's $325-an-hour attorney Richard Hansen estimated at $160,000 to $200,000. Ring had that benefit nailed down in a hearing before King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum on Feb. 16, 2005. By King County code, any government employee charged with a crime on the job must have attorney's fees covered by the government agency they work for.

The deal also would require the county to pay Ring an additional $10,000, which roughly equaled what he had paid for bond. Ring said he had insisted during negotiations that he get some extra money.

"Nothing says I'm sorry like money, I told them," Ring said.

In return, the county would get rid of Ring, and a $2.5 million claim he'd filed against the Sheriff's Office.

He also would agree never to work as a cop in Washington again.

Rahr and others said they were concerned about recent cases where deputies had won back their jobs through arbitration after being accused of misconduct. Their alleged offenses were less serious than Ring's.

"I decided to enter into the settlement agreement because it was the only way to guarantee he would not be a police officer again," Rahr said.

Ring had a different impression of Rahr's findings. "In the very end, Sue Rahr looked at the case and said this is bullshit," Ring said. "That's what she said to the Guild president (Eggert)."

Ring said he was told that Rahr said to Eggert: "I don't know how to make Dan Ring whole again."

Rahr recalled Eggert saying that to her, not the other way around. Eggert did not return calls.

Rahr also said she is examining the intelligence unit, and changes are possible, although "I think Dan is an anomaly in that department."

A weakened case?

Down the street, deputy prosecutors were vigorously preparing their case, and Janine Taylor had been flown to Seattle once for a deposition. She was on call and ready to testify, as were others. One flaw in the case was the fact that the alleged fraud victim, O.J. Morrison, had died, but voluminous records and recorded testimony had been collected to argue that aspect of the prosecution.

After the settlement agreement was fully prepared, but still unsigned, Rahr said she told deputy prosecutor Larson about it. She also expressed her opinion regarding the weakness of the criminal case and the risk that Ring might beat it.

"I told Mark I wasn't willing to take the risk of having this guy back," she said. "I told him I had entered into a settlement agreement. We certainly had a verbal agreement."

Larson said such a discussion with the sheriff over a case like this was unusual, but it happened.

"She gave me a heads up to take a look at it. She was concerned with what she was seeing," he said.

Suddenly, the prosecutor's office wanted to talk settlement.

Larson said that with Rahr's doubts in mind -- plus his own -- he was anxious to re-examine the criminal case.

He felt a good way to do that would be to see what kind of a defense Hansen was going to present in court. Hansen is a noted defense attorney who had recently beaten the Sheriff's Office on less-serious allegations against other officers.

Hansen said Larson "called me up and said we ought to talk settlement a week or 10 days before we were set to go to trial."

Larson said it's also uncommon for him to meet with defense attorneys this way over cases. He said he does so in maybe 1 percent of the 10,000 cases handled by the prosecutor's office annually.

The pending settlement with Ring was on his mind.

"I think there was this notion, 'What if he were just to resign?' " Larson said. "What if he just left? Where does that leave us in terms of our desire to continue a prosecution?

"I think that was a good outcome, on the merits."

Hansen sent the prosecutor's office a letter on April 14 detailing how he might debunk their case.

The letter said: "We also believe, based on discussions with Guild representative Steve Eggert, that Sheriff Rahr does not want this prosecution to proceed, but would prefer that Dan Ring's situation be resolved through the internal investigation process."

"It appears that none of the ... criminal allegations will be sustained even though the burden of proof is much lower in that context than in a criminal case," the letter said.

It went further to flatly mischaracterize the FBI investigation in the case, saying: "The FBI conducted a thorough investigation of Ring before closing their file on the case after finding no criminal conduct."

"On the contrary," supervisory special agent Ferbrache said. "We developed what we all thought -- we, being the FBI -- was a strong criminal case based on the violations that he was ultimately charged with."

Hansen said if he was wrong, it was unintentional.

Larson had a 1 1/2-hour meeting with Hansen, which included the deputy prosecutors and King County Prosecutor Maleng's chief of staff Dan Satterberg. He later consulted with Maleng, and after further deliberations and examining Hansen's evidence, he decided to drop all charges against Ring with prejudice, which means they cannot be refiled. He said Hansen's letter was "useful," but it didn't sway him.

"I think (Maleng) very much appreciated the greater good and that it was a good outcome," Larson said.

"I think they (the defense) had a story to tell and multiple options to take before a jury," Larson said. "I think those things were illuminating."

"You can win every motion," Larson said. "And still lose a trial."

"I'm very disappointed and surprised that the King County prosecutor did not take a swing at this guy," Ferbrache said. "Either negotiate a guilty plea for a felony criminal conviction or take him to trial.

"I had every reason to think (deputy prosecutor) Barbara Mack felt good about this case. I wasn't given any kind of satisfactory explanation as to why they dismissed all counts."

In response, Larson said Ferbrache was taking a shot "from the cheap seats."

Larson said Mack and the other deputy prosecutor in Ring's case didn't agree with his decision.

"I don't know if they would have made the same decision," he said. "I had a sense they were ready to try the case and they may have been disappointed."

Mack said, "I thought that the case was a tryable case, absolutely. I don't prepare cases for trial and expect to lose them."

Regarding the issue of making sure Ring was no longer with the Sheriff's Office, the 19-year veteran deputy prosecutor said, "I assume had we won the trial, he would no longer be a police officer."

Maleng said that as trial approached, he, Larson and Satterberg analyzed the case and felt it was "weak." He also said he arranged the meeting between Larson and Rahr to discuss the case.

Rahr said she "would assume" that she influenced Larson's decision, but said it was his call in the end. "He's an experienced prosecutor," she said.

Norm Maleng
ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
"Justice was served. We did the best we could on this case," King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng says. "It doesn't mean that I think (Dan Ring) should be receiving benefits, a pension, et cetera. I wanted to have the badge removed."

"Justice was served," Maleng said. "We did the best we could on this case."

Asked to comment on the settlement with Ring, Maleng said, "It doesn't mean that I think he should be receiving benefits, a pension, et cetera. I wanted to have the badge removed."

On the day the trial was supposed to begin, April 25, a representative of the prosecutor's office signed Ring's settlement. Rahr, Eggert, Ring and another attorney representing Ring had signed the agreement three days earlier.

The news hit like a bomb in the Sheriff's Office, and in the remote location where Taylor was preparing to testify in the trial.

Rahr met with the entire Sheriff's Office fraud division. She said the investigators -- all of whom had some role in the case -- were universally angry at the decision.

"They felt strongly that Dan should have been criminally charged and should have been fired," the sheriff said. "They put a lot of time and hard work into that investigation."

Publicly, the prosecutor's office announced that the case was dropped in part because Morrison, the alleged theft victim, had died. He had died more than seven months earlier, on Sept. 14, 2004.

Larson also said one of the goals of the prosecutor's office was that Ring no longer be involved in law enforcement.

"That's insane on its face," Ring said. "Why would you file a criminal charge against someone to get them to retire? I would have retired on my own."

Larson said Ring's comment is nothing more than "Monday morning quarterbacking."

"I'm very dismayed. I know we had a case. I know we had probable cause. I know there were other charges that could have been looked at that weren't," fraud investigator Ostrum said. "Nothing that we filed charges on doesn't have a mountain of documentation to back it up.

"It is just kind of disheartening for me to know there was a case that could have been made and a case that could have gone to trial and could have been given a chance to go through the criminal justice system the right way -- and it didn't."

Janine Taylor said she was in bed watching a movie when Barbara Mack called with the news that all charges were dropped.

"I just got sick to my stomach," she said. "What was I thinking? He's Dan Ring. He gets away with everything. What the f--k was I thinking? Crime does pay. Nasty people. Friends in power."

"They are cowards," Taylor said of the high-level officials at the Sheriff's Office and prosecutor's office who made the decision. "It got messier and bigger and more scandalous than they counted on.

"And they chickened out."


Read the rest of this special report.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Conduct Unbecoming: Reports of sex, drug abuse -- and little police work

Second of three parts. See Part 1.

Dan Ring had an undercover car, a top-secret federal clearance, access to a roomful of sophisticated spying tools -- and an $80,000-a-year salary to encourage him to track down criminals in King County's sex trade.

Dan Ring
ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
A Sheriff's Office investigation of ex-Deputy Dan Ring, here in his own truck, found no record of him filing "a felony case in the last ten years."

For 14 years, the detective worked on his own, rarely checking in, partying with prostitutes, making deals with escort-service operators, driving the county executive's car and traveling to Mexico, Thailand and Canada.

Then in October 2004, a King County Sheriff's Office captain made a discovery.

Capt. Cameron K. Webster searched a database where the Sheriff's Office keeps case reports, incident reports, witness statements, suspect statements and much more.

Over a five-year period, he found only 17 entries with Ring's name, compared with 4,500 for the other officers in intelligence. The unit usually has five to six officers.

"I have been unable to uncover any evidence that any intelligence Dan has gathered on the adult entertainment industry in the last five years has led to a single criminal investigation, arrest or charge," Webster wrote.

Beyond that, "there was no record of Dan having filed a felony case in the last ten years."

Ring didn't agree with Webster's assessment of his work product, saying he kept his material in different files, and besides, he was out befriending sex-industry subjects to get information from them.

"It is hard to get people to trust you when you are out arresting your buddies," he said.

Webster was apparently the first administrator to closely examine Ring's record for a decade covering the administrations of Sheriffs Jim Montgomery and Dave Reichert. Ring traveled so far below his supervisors' radar that he continued his antics for more than two years after two women -- his wife and an escort-service operator -- reported him for alleged drug use and abusive behavior.

Lynn Higman
ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
North Seattle personal trainer Lynn Higman said she sold Ecstasy to then-Sheriff's Deputy Dan Ring six times in the late spring and early summer of 2001. She said the largest transaction was for $400.

Unbeknownst to Ring's direct supervisor, Sgt. Ray Green, Ring was under investigation by King County detectives, the FBI and Seattle police for a startling array of alleged crimes. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer followed up by doing scores of interviews and obtaining and reviewing thousands of pages of documents to understand how Ring operated -- how he became known to one local madam as "Captain Save-a-Ho."

Ring formed long-term relationships with two operators of large Seattle escort services, and though he denied helping in their business, he told the P-I that informant relationships with officers are what keep escort services in business.

"It was unclear where his work with these sources ended and his personal life began, or was it all intertwined?" said Mark Ferbrache, supervisory special agent of the FBI's public corruption and white-collar crime office in Seattle, which helped King County investigate Ring.

Charging papers -- in a case against Ring dismissed just before trial by King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng -- said Ring gave one escort service advice on how to avoid being caught by police, that he warned the service about police informants, checked the background of troublesome customers and employees, and revealed the identity of at least one undercover Seattle police officer.

Janine Taylor, Ring's ex-wife, was busted by Seattle police vice officer Harvey Sloan in 1995 for flashing and touching a customer at a nude dancing club. Sloan said when investigators told him Ring allegedly had blown his undercover identity after his arrest of prostitutes at the Westin Hotel: "I was not happy about it."

"If my (undercover) name was out there and I didn't know it and tried to use it again, I could've gotten hurt," said Sloan, who worked in SPD vice for 10 years starting in 1994.

Ring's lawyer, Richard Hansen, said the case against Ring never would have worked in court because the escort-service operators who agreed to testify against him deny being involved in prostitution. He also noted there was no evidence Ring received compensation for any help he supposedly provided.

The P-I interviewed Rhonda Wallace, operator of Executive Privileges and Roxanne's Adult Entertainment, who said, "He would do what I asked him to do." She added that it was a two-way street. She once gave him information on a cop suspected of raping one of her girls.

"He made me his bitch. If a cop calls me and says, 'You're going to do this and do that,' what choice do you have in this business?" she asked. "I heard him loud and clear."

Wallace added, "He'd let me know when there was a sting coming up, stuff like that. Whatever legal stuff we could circumvent."

She said Ring would call and tell her to "go on vacation," their code for an upcoming sting. Ring warned her, she said, against hiring two escorts who had turned informants after a bust known as Garden of Eden. She said he told her "not to touch 'em," that they were a "train wreck."

The madam, attired in sweatpants, a loose-fitting T-shirt and leopard print slippers, constantly took calls on a cell phone while the reporter talked to her. Her women, she said, charge $300 an hour, and she gets a cut of $80.

She said Ring gave her advice aimed at keeping her out of jail and in business. She said he told her: Don't advertise that women will travel out of state for appointments, because that's a federal crime. Don't use credit cards, which create a paper trail, and don't use the word "escorts" in advertising because under state law that is synonymous with prostitute.

She said it was helpful when he checked the backgrounds of customers and potential employees, like the time he warned her away from a woman known to use drugs.

She knew he was overstepping his boundaries as a sheriff's deputy, but she didn't think he was a bad guy. "Dan was one of a kind. ... I think he just got caught up like a man can get caught up. He was Captain Save-a-Ho."

She got immunity to testify, but added: "I'm glad it didn't go to trial."

Wallace worried that if the case had gone through a trial, she would have been exposed as a madam, scaring business away and possibly bringing unwanted attention.

Ring got even cozier with another person in the sex trade.

Janine Taylor had just turned 21 when she was caught up in Eurosport, a yearlong undercover sting operation set up by Ring in 1992. Her troubled teenage life in South King County included extensive drug use and rehabilitation. By the time Ring busted her, she'd been a nude dancer, an escort and a telephone operator at Personal Touch escort service. The ex-operator of Personal Touch, Maxine Doogan, described Taylor as a young kid she'd taken into her home, practically off the streets.

"When you have incredibly low self-esteem and you are doing drugs, you have sex you don't want to be having," said Taylor, who says she has left the sex trade and is building a new life.

She said she was fiercely loyal to the escort-service operator, going to jail rather than testifying against her, a characteristic Ring would later say had attracted him to her -- a woman who could keep secrets.

Taylor kept Ring's card after her arrest, and in 1993 contacted him to check on the status of her case. They met for coffee and talked late into the night. Taylor said one of her motives was to show a sheriff's deputy that she was a human being, and another was to get him on her side. Soon they were dating, then living together.

Long before they were married, she said, he shared confidential police information with her, constantly, and subtly tipped her off if undercover police operations were planned at Déjà vu nude dancing clubs, where she worked. When he found out something might come down, he'd strongly urge her not to go to work, but instead to go to dinner with him. She recalls passing at least one tip to friends.

Their system didn't work in February 1995 because they were fighting. Ring paged her, but she ignored the page and went to work in the downtown Déjà vu anyway. Seattle vice cop Sloan, posing as a patron, arrested her for illegal touching and exposure during a table dance. Ring met her at the jail and she recalls him telling her: "Maybe you should answer my pages. I was trying to tell you not to go to work."

Jealousy -- and handcuffs

Taylor said Ring mostly formed intimate bonds with people he'd collared, made friends with criminals and turned sheriff's equipment into toys at home.

In their trouble-laced relationship, she recalled one early incident that combined his penchant for spying, his misuse of official tools and what Taylor describes as "sexual deviance."

"He believed me to be cheating. Being Dan, he investigated the person he thought I was with," she said. "He found out the guy was into pretty kinky sex.

"He came up behind me and put his arms around me," she said. "Next thing I knew I was in a police hold with cuffs on, face down with a pillow over my head. I was thrashing for several minutes. Screaming hysterically. He just stopped. He got off the bed. He came over and took the cuffs off. Didn't say anything."

Taylor ran and locked herself in the bathroom.

"I heard him on the other side of the door, sliding down, like he was sitting down. He always kept a gun on top of the refrigerator. I heard a noise (and) I assumed he was getting his gun. I really accepted there was no way out of the house and that I was going to die that night."

When she opened the door, she found him sobbing and apologizing.

In an interview, Ring said Taylor had asked to be handcuffed. However, in a declaration in King County Superior Court responding to Taylor's attempt to get a protection order in September 2001, Ring said only, "I put a pair of handcuffs in my pocket and during foreplay quickly cuffed her hands and held her down on the bed. I did NOT smother her with a pillow."

It wasn't Ring's first use of handcuffs with a girlfriend. In the 1980s, when Ring was working off duty as security at the Sea-Tac Red Lion, he dated an employee named Kathy Brister. She said Ring used handcuffs on her and she felt uncomfortable.

"I told him to stop and he did," Brister said.

'I was a trophy'

Taylor had long ago grown weary of nude dancing, and hoped to stay away from it forever. She hated the invasive touching by creepy customers and the ugly atmosphere.

She quit dancing in August 1995. Ring, the cop, opposed the move, she said, because he liked the money she made, and enjoyed visiting the clubs where she would perform lap dances for him.

"He hated me quitting," she said. "He was so grumpy. He liked that I was a trophy, but that I could afford to live at his level."

Ring said stripping is legal, and licensed, in King County, and there's no law against him dating a stripper.

Taylor spent a year bartending at an Azteca restaurant, and then put makeup on customers at Gene Juarez, the fashionable Seattle hair salon, as well as at a photo studio. She and Ring married in 2000, on San Juan Island, something that he had urged.

But the dark side was never far away, and she was about to be pulled again into her worst teenage nightmare -- drugs.

Taylor said one reason she was attracted to Ring was the fact he didn't use drugs, something she avoided because of her harrowing teenage experiences. But in the spring of 2001, she said, Ring came home from work "excited and nervous" and showed her some pills.

"There was a drug case," she remembered him saying. "These are unaccounted for."

"I said, 'What? We don't do drugs,' " she recalled. " 'You are a policeman. You have three kids. We don't do drugs. No. Thanks for running it by your wife, but that is a stupid idea.' "

Nevertheless, she was susceptible and he was persistent. Soon, she said, Ring was regularly bringing home Ecstasy and Valium. She was hooked again. Emergency crews were called to their apartment on May 24, 2001, when she overdosed on Valium.

Ring said he didn't use drugs. He acknowledged contacting a North Seattle personal trainer named Lynn Higman in the spring of 2001, who he believed was selling Valium and Ecstasy. He said he learned about her from Lisa Gorrin, an escort-service operator. He said his only reason for contacting Higman was to assist Edmonds police who were investigating a Valium overdose by a stripper who might have known Higman. Ring told the same Edmonds police story to investigators.

But no one named Dan Ring ever helped Edmonds police with the case, said Edmonds Detective Dave Honnen, after he had consulted with the officer who worked the case. Gorrin said Ring later told her that he had given the drugs to Taylor.

Higman told the P-I the only reason Ring sought her out was to buy Ecstasy.

The 48-year-old personal trainer said she sold Ecstasy to Ring six times in the late spring and early summer of 2001. She said the largest transaction was for $400. The vehicle he was driving matched the description of his sheriff's car.

The drug buyer identified himself as "George" (which is Ring's real first name), she said, and he was a "smooth talker" who "said he was a photographer."

When investigators showed her a photo montage, she picked out Dan Ring.

Higman said two different women were with "George" during a couple of the transactions. One was a "shifty-eyed" woman named "Sarah," whom she identified from photos as Janine Taylor. Another was a "jittery woman," whom Higman picked out of a photo montage as Rebecca Rose, who currently lives with Ring. Rose declined to comment.

Higman and Taylor described the first drug transaction identically. Taylor said she and Ring parked the car in the Lake City area, and Taylor walked up to Higman to arrange the purchase.

Ring acknowledged that phone records showed around two dozen calls were made from a Sheriff's Office cell phone carried by Ring to Higman during the time of the alleged drug transactions. Ring said he didn't make the calls, except for the initial one, and speculated that maybe Taylor was using his phone. Taylor said the phone was always in Ring's sheriff's car.

Higman was reluctant to talk about drug transactions. She said she doesn't use drugs herself, especially Ecstasy, but doesn't object to others doing so, as long as they are not officers who are supposed to act in the public trust.

"I have never used Ecstasy," Ring said.

Higman told part of her story to a Sheriff's Office internal investigator, Sgt. Patrick Raftis, who found her in October 2001. That was the first time she identified Ring in a photo montage, she said. Raftis was working on the first internal investigation, the one started by Taylor, which was closed without action. Raftis could not be reached for comment.

Higman said she told her story again to FBI agent Gary Pilawski and SPD Sgt. Mike Hay after they tracked her down again in May 2003. She said they eventually made her feel comfortable enough to talk fully about every transaction. She gave another statement to Pilawski in January 2004. Higman told the P-I Ring hinted at more than an interest in Ecstasy.

"He was trying to get more than that," she said. "After he started to know me, after he made a trip to Las Vegas, I believe, he asked me: 'Do you know where I can get 'go-fast?' "

Higman said Ring may have been referring to either cocaine or methamphetamine. She said she had no interest in obtaining those kinds of drugs.

When Taylor told Sheriff's Office investigators about Ring's drug purchases, she said she had mixed feelings. She didn't want him to lose his job. In fact, she was willing to go back to him if someone could get him straightened out, she said.

A strange phone call

Higman knew nothing about Taylor's report to internal affairs, but she said she got a strange cell phone call on a date that would have been just days later.

Higman was driving to Sandpoint, Idaho, where she was planning to live for a while, helping a friend sell a house. She was outside Moses Lake, accompanied by another woman, when the phone rang and on the line was a woman whose voice sounded like "the jittery one," the woman who had accompanied Ring on a couple of the drug buys.

"I know you are a good person," the voice said. "Someone might be out to hurt you."

Higman said investigators traced the call to a fast-food restaurant in the Tacoma area, but could not identify the caller.

"When she said there was somebody after me, instantly I knew it was him," Higman said. "Yeah, that scared me."

The Las Vegas trip Ring mentioned to Higman might have been Taylor's 30th birthday celebration in June 2001. The trip was a drug-soaked disaster, Taylor said, and led to their final breakup.

Before the Vegas trip, Rebecca Rose had entered Taylor's life at Ring's insistence. Ring told Taylor that Rose had briefly worked for and testified against Taylor's madam in the Eurosport bust in 1992, a fact that was confirmed by court records. Taylor didn't want to deal with Rose out of loyalty to her former madam, but Ring insisted.

First Rose and her husband, John Finsterbusch, showed up at a favorite neighborhood bar in Seattle, and soon they were regularly at the apartment she shared with Ring. Taylor especially didn't want them accompanying her to her birthday celebration in Vegas, but they showed up anyway.

One night at the casino-hotel where they were staying, Taylor said she felt the effects of Ecstasy. Ring had given it to her frequently by then, but this dose took her by surprise. The drug made her feel very friendly, even toward Rose, she said.

And there must have been something else in her system, she said, because she passed out and woke up in a hotel room, nude, with Ring and Rose, who also were unclothed.

"There was a digital camera on the nightstand," Taylor said, and she recognized it as a Sheriff's Office camera Ring often used.

"I quietly picked it up, and looked at the pictures," she said. They were photos, she said, of her having sex with Ring and Rose. Very graphic.

Taylor said it was more than a year before she could use the word "rape" to describe the experience, and she could do so only after seeing a therapist. She would later tell investigators she felt violated. The investigators would never find the most graphic pictures, though there were others of the Las Vegas trip. Pictures were missing from the numbered sequence.

Rose declined to comment. Her ex-husband could not be reached.

"I've read the rape allegations in Vegas," Ring said, referring to investigators' reports that were obtained by his attorney. "There's a thread of truth in every story." But then he added, "I never had sex with anyone on that trip."

Taylor said she decided to end the marriage in August 2001 after Ring asked her to have three-way sex with the couple again, and with a prostitute in Canada. She was terrified about using drugs again, and she no longer recognized the man she had lived with for so long and had married.

"While I was coming from a dark place moving towards lightness, he was moving toward darkness. When we ended the marriage, he had completely evolved into everything I was trying to get away from," she said.

Taylor was well aware of the tools that Ring, as an intelligence detective in the Sheriff's Office, had at his disposal to find her.

But she was unaware that someone else had reported him, and that new investigators had entered the scene, ones who would like to talk to her and to help her.

They would soon gather evidence from Ring's computer showing how vigorously he was hunting her.

Among the tools he used was a law enforcement version of Accurint, a powerful, privately owned database service used by many law enforcement agencies that provides a person's name, date of birth, Social Security number and extensive background information. Between Jan. 8, 2003, and Jan. 13, 2004, Ring made 1,008 information requests with Accurint, and of those more than 520 inquiries were related to finding Janine Taylor, including searches for her, her family, relatives, friends and ex-boyfriends, according to court records.

Ring also made 18 checks on Taylor and her associates on an even more powerful and exclusive police tool known as WACIC and NCIC. Operated by the Washington State Patrol and federal law enforcement agencies, these databases are restricted to police personnel.

Using such tools to track his ex-wife, Ring found Taylor had made a credit purchase in Nevada -- at Victoria's Secret -- and noted it in his Outlook file in his computer.

Ring also tracked down people he believed were somehow connected to Taylor. For instance, he ran the names of several people in Southern California who she worked with on a photo shoot as a makeup artist. He even got a detective in Ohio to drive by a house where he wrongly believed Taylor was living in August 2003.

Ring said he called the Ohio cop only to ask for a personal favor. But Eaton police Detective Jeff Cotner told King County Internal Investigations Capt. Webster that Ring's request was characterized as department business.

Ring doesn't dispute trying to find Taylor, but says he was only trying to return her belongings, which he said were in the garage of his Des Moines home. A reporter asked Ring why he didn't simply mail the stuff to Taylor's parents -- as she said she had instructed him to do long ago -- or why he didn't ask for an address when she telephoned him once after the break-up.

Ring replied: "Well, yeah, and there's that."

As Taylor went underground, she used the lessons Ring had taught her. She recalled him explaining that if you want to disappear, don't apply for credit, or regular jobs, or sign leases. She did none of the above, and frequently changed addresses and cell phone numbers. She hid so well it took the FBI nine months to find her.

"I do believe that he works with ... criminal intent, that he is fully conscious of right and wrong, and he chooses to do wrong," Taylor said. "He believes he can get away with it."

Some say he did just that.

After a 3 1/2-year investigation, and just days before trial, the Sheriff's Office let Ring retire and the prosecutor dropped all charges against him. He has been paid, without working, since his arrest in January 2004, and feels that's proof he was hounded by an unnecessary investigation.

"You guys are paying my wages right now," he said. "And you will be paying them until the end of November 2005."


How the case fell apart


Yesterday: Ring's wife -- and a madam -- blow the whistle.

Today: Sex, drugs and databases.

Tomorrow: How the case fell apart.

More: The Ring investigation likely allowed two escort services to skirt prosecution.

Conduct Unbecoming: How a disgraced sheriff's deputy beat the system

First of three parts.

A vice cop gone bad, turned in by a high-dollar madam and his ex-prostitute wife. Members of an elite sheriff's unit running out of control. A personal trainer peddling designer drugs. An FBI agent kicked off the case. Political ambition colliding with unpleasant facts. And finally, days before the cop was to be tried, a top-level decision to pay him off and kill the case.

It could be a Hollywood screenplay. Instead, it's a King County reality.


The cop is George Daniel Ring, for 26 years a sheriff's deputy, most of them spent in the shadowy sex-for-money world. Dan Ring says he's just a normal "heterosexual guy." But he couldn't separate his work life from his sex life, and the consequences would embarrass the Sheriff's Office and enrage many of his former colleagues.

After facing down two internal investigations and a multiagency criminal inquiry resulting in several criminal charges, Ring walked away all but unscathed, with nearly two years of paid leave, a $10,000 cash payment, almost $200,000 for attorney's fees and a $3,500-a-month pension for life -- all from King County taxpayers.

"I can scrape by on that," he says with a smile.

Two others in the Sheriff's Office intelligence unit Ring worked for, including his boss, went undisciplined for the questionable roles they played in the Ring matter. They remain on the job today.

This is a story without heroes -- but with plenty of frustrated public servants who tried to do what they thought was the right thing, and believe the outcome of the Ring case was wrong.

Over the next three days, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will show you the case that was made against Dan Ring, and how he beat it -- to the great displeasure of the FBI, the cops who investigated him and the ground-level prosecutors who tried to put him away.

Janine Taylor was terrified.

She was sitting in the office of the internal affairs division of the King County Sheriff's Office, and she was reporting her husband, Detective Dan Ring, for threatening her and obtaining drugs.

"I realized I was crossing a threshold. ... From now on, I would be his enemy," she said of that day in September 2001.

That morning, she'd been in a courtroom seeking a protection order. But looking at Ring across the room, she'd felt sympathy. She balked at declaring him the danger she truly thought he was. She lost the case.

Moments later, she found her husband taking away her car from the lot where she parked it in downtown Seattle. She says he shoved her while warning her: "I told you nobody would believe you. I'm a cop ... you're f- - - - d."

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See chart showing relationships between the key people in this story. (72K PDF)

When she first met Ring, more than a decade earlier, she was only 21 and he was 37. She thought knowing a cop would provide her with protection. She was a nude dancer, and she also had been arrested in a prostitution sting he'd helped set up in 1992. A cup of coffee led to an eight-year relationship that led to a two-year marriage that spiraled downward into what she described as abusiveness, drug use and sexual deviance.

Now, as she talked with King County Sheriff's Sgt. James Graddon, secrets spilled out about the husband she feared. Taylor described a long-term friendship between Ring and the operator of Seattle's biggest escort service: how the friendship had grown closer recently, how the woman could call Ring anytime she liked and how they would get together for dinner and who knew what else.

Taylor also said Ring repeatedly bought Ecstasy, an illegal and potentially dangerous "party drug."

"Give him a drug test right now," she urged. "You guys have got to do something. ... This is really, really, really bad," she recalled telling them.

A false promise

The investigators assured her that her report would remain confidential, and would be thoroughly investigated.

Neither part of that promise was kept.

As Taylor talked with the investigators, someone alerted Ring's supervisor, Sgt. Ray Green, the man in charge of King County's intelligence unit.

Ring says Green immediately called him on a cell phone to warn him that his wife was filing a report against him.

"He just said your wife is down in IIU. Your wife is reporting you for assault and for using drugs," Ring recalled.

He wrote a brief description of Green's warning call on his Microsoft Outlook calendar in his work computer. It was later found by investigators.

"That's not my recollection of how that happened," Green said, without clarifying what he did recall. "You are just going to have to print what you are going to print."

Ring said Green is a friend.

"He was backing me all the way in this thing," Ring said. "I was investigated by the people down the hall."

Sheriff Sue Rahr said she was unaware of the warning call until a reporter asked her about it for this report, although it was known to investigators.

"It's a serious allegation to say that your supervisor tipped you off to an internal investigation," Rahr said. "I would be very surprised that that was proved."

It never was proved -- or, apparently, even investigated. Dave Reichert, who was sheriff at the time and is now a U.S. representative from the 8th District, said he was also unaware of the call. He said he had discussed removing Green from his position as supervisor of the intelligence unit because of other supervisory problems, but he never did so.

A few days after the P-I told her about the call, and nearly five years after the fact, Rahr said her office would investigate the matter. "I will see if there is any way to prove one way or the other whether it happened," Rahr said.

The grueling session at internal affairs left Taylor shaken.

It was the day after 9/11. She says she "went home and pulled the covers over my head for a few days. ... (I thought), this is the end of the world as I know it."

Then, things got worse.

The tenor of the investigation "became very aggressive towards me, non-believing me," she said.

She was urged to take a polygraph but it was inconclusive because she says she was was ill and anxious during the test. A proposed second test was never done.

She said Ring, too, got even more aggressive.

When she applied for work, employers would get vicious calls.

She needed money.

"He left me with $20. He emptied out the house of everything. The sheets off the bed. Closed the bank account. Took the car."

Intercepted e-mails

Desperate, she turned to an old resource, the sex industry. Randomly choosing a Seattle-area escort business, she e-mailed Rhonda Wallace, who then operated Executive Privileges and Roxanne's Adult Entertainment.

Wallace recalled getting the e-mail and a surprise call afterward from Ring, whom she had not yet met.

"He told me his wife had e-mailed me for a job," Wallace said.

She says Ring then told her who he was and what he was. He told her not to hire Taylor. And, she says, he told her to call Taylor and tell her he had intercepted the e-mail.

That began a relationship between Ring and Wallace that the escort-service operator described as, "I'll scratch your back. You scratch mine."

But no one was scratching Taylor's back. When Wallace told her that her husband had intercepted her e-mails, it didn't shock her. It fit a pattern.

"He is not going to let me make any money," she thought. "He is going to break me."

After she bought a car to replace the one Ring took, she discovered Ring one night examining the vehicle near her apartment. He was writing down the vehicle identification and license plate numbers in a notebook. She grabbed the notebook and called the Seattle Police Department.

Ring called the officer afterward and told him to arrest Taylor for stealing the notebook. When the Seattle officer refused, Ring became pushy, telling him how to do his job.

"Yeah, that pissed me off," Ring said. "He should have charged her. She admitted it. I wanted her charged."

One day in January 2002, Taylor realized just how terrified she was. She and her brother were at an Office Depot in Tukwila. They spotted Ring walking in, though he didn't see them. She rushed to her brother's car and lay on the floor, clutching her cell phone, with her fingers on the 911 buttons.

She knew something had to give. The Sheriff's Office internal affairs department had accomplished nothing. "I was swept under the rug," she said.

Indeed, the investigation was quietly closed. But it would not be long before another report on Ring came to the attention of authorities. They would need to talk to Taylor again, but this time she would be hard to find.

Because in February 2002, she fled.

The miffed madam

Seattle police Sgt. Mike Hay hadn't seen Lisa Gorrin in years, but he could tell immediately she was upset.

He was directing traffic off duty at Pacific Place in November 2001 when the fashionably dressed woman crossed Sixth Avenue from Nordstrom and asked to talk.

Her story didn't spill out immediately. She's a guarded woman, and very nervous, after years of operating one of Seattle's largest adult-entertainment services. But during a half-hour conversation on the street, she brought up Dan Ring.

Gorrin was busted by Ring and other detectives in 1986 for promoting prostitution when she was operator of Playgirl Escorts. She met him again in 1999, having been introduced by a Seattle detective. For the next three years, she had a relationship with Ring as a confidential informant.

What Gorrin told Hay on Sixth Avenue would inspire a multiagency investigation to examine -- among other things -- Ring's informant relationship with Gorrin and at least one other escort-service operator.

Gorrin said Ring had called her house repeatedly on Aug. 24, 2001, begging to see her after breaking up with Taylor. Gorrin recalled Ring imploring her, saying that she was his only friend. Gorrin said she told him to stay away. She said Ring arrived at her house anyway, at around 9 p.m., disheveled and out of control. He was drunk, had an open, near-empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his undercover police car and was carrying a gun. He demanded a bath.

Gorrin said she was frightened and ordered him to put the gun back in his car, which he did. During the bath, Gorrin said he made her wash his private parts repeatedly, which disgusted her. She said she felt raped but was trapped. "He crossed the line hideously," she said.

"Just because you are a hooker or escort-service owner doesn't mean people can't cross the line sexually with you," said Robin Ostrum, a King County Sheriff's detective who investigated the Ring case.

Ring said in a recent interview that he was drunk, for sure, when he went to Gorrin's house, but he insisted that he had politely asked to take a shower and took a bath instead. Ring said he washed himself. A sheriff's internal affairs report said, however, that Ring recorded the event in his computer, noting under Gorrin's name that on that date: "She gives me a bath."

Gorrin told investigators that Ring was crying like a child. She gave him a pizza, then put him to bed in a spare bedroom.

He left her a thank-you note before departing the next morning. Later, though, he would say, "That was really stupid of me to go to an informant's house to cry on her shoulder."

Gorrin also told Hay that Ring had used her to arrange a drug buy from a North Seattle personal trainer named Lynn Higman. Ring said he was checking out a tip that drugs from the same source had caused the death of a stripper from Edmonds.

He claimed to be helping Edmonds police, which the agency denies.

Gorrin said Ring later told her he'd given the drugs to his wife.

"That's when I started hating him," Gorrin said. "If you have our law enforcement officers involved in drugs, who is going to protect our children?"

"I took it to be an extremely serious allegation," Hay said.

Gorrin begged him not to tell anyone, but Hay said he had no choice. He passed the word up the Seattle police chain of command. An assistant chief told King County Sheriff's Capt. Annette Louie, and the case landed in Sheriff Dave Reichert's lap.

Sheriff with a full plate

Reichert was a busy man at the time.

ZoomPaul Joseph Brown / P-I
Former Sheriff's Deputy Dan Ring faced two internal investigations and a criminal inquiry, which produced this stack of files in the Sheriff's Office. The Seattle Police Department and the FBI assisted. Ring walked away nearly unscathed.

The tips on Ring came in just as Reichert reached the climax of his law-enforcement career. Two days before Janine Taylor came forward to internal affairs, Reichert found out from his staff that DNA tests had linked a South King County commercial truck painter named Gary Ridgway to Green River, the nation's biggest unsolved serial murder case.

The case had occupied Reichert for much of his career. He'd been the lead detective in 1982 when the first bodies turned up in the Green River.

Ring had played a small part in the case, too. He said that as a young vice cop working undercover, he sat on a riverbank with a girlfriend, hoping to spot the killer. Ring said some of his informants later became Green River victims.

Shortly after Taylor's visit to internal affairs, Reichert met secretly with his top commanders and reassembled the Green River task force to prepare for the Ridgway arrest. As he would later write in his book, "Chasing the Devil," "We knew the arrest would be national and maybe even international news."

Around the time Gorrin was talking to SPD's Hay, providing information on Ring's drunken bath, Ridgway was arrested, setting off the media frenzy that Reichert had predicted.

Reichert said the Green River case didn't distract him from Ring. "I love to juggle all kinds of challenges," he said.

But Dan Ring would be difficult to investigate. As an intelligence officer for more than a decade, Ring's computer expertise was well known. He'd been a deputy for a long time. He knew just about everybody in local law enforcement.

You could say the veteran vice cop knew every trick in the book.

White Center native

Dan Ring grew up in White Center, in a family of six kids. His dad was a Boeing worker.

Ring married right out of high school -- his first of three marriages -- and worked at a steel mill. It was a chance encounter that got him to the Sheriff's Office. A shirttail relative, Deputy Jim Fuda, took him for a ride in a patrol car, and Ring said he was hooked.

He was soon a deputy, patrolling South King County. Four years later, he found his calling -- vice. He worked undercover on the SeaTac strip.

"I was a natural at making vice arrests. I'm a natural bullshitter, I guess," he said. "I arrested one girl twice in one week."

He joined the intelligence unit in 1990, where he focused on the sex trade and using the high-tech equipment cops use to spy on people. He taught computer-assisted policing techniques throughout the state, even becoming president of the Northwest Criminal Intelligence Network, a consortium of regional police intelligence units.

Inside the county's most sensitive police office, the intelligence unit, Ring was the top techie, the guy who troubleshot the systems that tracked confidential informants and handed out passwords for the sophisticated police software.

He was also an expert at surveillance and countersurveillance.

"No way in the world we could surveil him," Reichert said. "He'd recognize our cars and people. I knew we couldn't go to Seattle PD, he knew their people and their cars." .

So Reichert turned to the FBI.

By the time FBI agent Gary Pilawski and his King County counterpart Sgt. Rob Mathis started working the case in early 2002, they faced an uphill battle. .

Two key witnesses had left town -- Ring's estranged wife and the woman who may have sold him drugs. The investigators also didn't know who could be trusted in the Sheriff's Office.

Still, the FBI was happy to help.

"We jumped in. We did our investigation," said Mark Ferbrache, supervisory special agent in charge of the Seattle public corruption and white-collar crime squad.

Pilawski, a 26-year veteran and CPA with a deep white-collar crime investigation background, and Mathis, a 20-year law-enforcement veteran with a master's degree in clinical psychology, spent the majority of their time on Ring. The investigation moved glacially at times, because of missing witnesses and other complications, but within two years they'd gathered a trove of evidence on a range of potential criminal charges.

"I felt personally we had a very strong case against this guy," said Hay, who assisted Mathis and Pilawski on a number of interviews.

Ring's descent

What the investigators turned up was an epic tale tracing an unsupervised detective's steady slide into the dark side.

The account that would unfold in public charges was only the tip of a much deeper story, one that spanned more than a decade and revealed a frightening breach of public trust in an office where the most sensitive police information in the region is kept, supposedly behind well-secured, locked doors.

Charles Mandigo, who retired as the FBI's chief in Seattle in mid-2003, recalled being deeply concerned with what his agents were finding. He said Ring appeared to have "no oversight" from the Sheriff's Office.

"What's this group doing down there? Who's in charge?" Mandigo asked. "Where's the accountability?"

A key event in Ring's saga was a major undercover sting on prostitution that he designed, called Eurosport, which netted a dozen criminal charges in 1992. It also netted Ring a future wife, Janine Taylor, and two other women with whom he would have liaisons, Yimei Yang and Rebecca Rose.

As the Eurosport case developed, Yang told Seattle vice cops she'd been dating Ring, but they found it hard to believe that he would be involved with a prostitute from a case he was dealing with in court.

Ring acknowledged the relationship, but dismissed its importance and denied it happened while the case was going on.

"She didn't become my girlfriend," Ring said. "I banged her from time to time."

But appeals in the Eurosport case still were being contested when Ring and another Criminal Intelligence Unit detective took Yang to an Aurora Avenue motel, where they videotaped Ring having rough sex with her. According to those who have seen the video, the tape shows a box for the camera that looks suspiciously like the intelligence unit camera's box. Also, the tape accidentally captures in a mirror the guy behind the camera -- Ross Nooney, a detective in the intelligence unit since the mid-1970s.

Nooney acknowledged videotaping the sex. At first, he denied that it was a department camera -- which would be a violation of department rules. Then, in an interview, he admitted he'd been too drunk to remember where the camera came from, so maybe it was King County's.

"I just remember being uncomfortable. I wanted to leave and go back to my house and watch TV," Nooney said.

Reichert and Rahr said the tape was discovered during a search of Ring's house last year, but nothing could be done about it. Both said that, odd as it seems, the activity did not break department rules.

"Can we prove it was a county (camera)? Nooney couldn't remember, conveniently," Reichert said.

Nooney remains in the intelligence unit today, and has never been disciplined.

"As much as we were thoroughly disgusted, we couldn't even transfer Ross Nooney because of the (King County Police Officers) Guild rules," Reichert said.

"He has employee rights," Rahr said.

Seattle lawyer Peter Camiel, who represented Maxine Doogan, one of the escort-service operator, said Ring's relationships with two key witnesses -- Yang and Rose -- potentially taints the entire Eurosport case, which stretched on for several years. The yearlong undercover sting netted at least a dozen charges, and several convictions, against area escort-service operators.

"That's a big deal," Camiel said. "It could color the informants' testimony or the police officers' reports."

"I would have liked it if this information came out years ago," added Camiel, who said his client is considering reopening her case.

Pressed on the issue by reporters, King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng and his Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor, Mark Larson, acknowledged last week that some Eurosport cases probably should be re-examined. "If there was any misconduct ... there's no question we'd want to look into that," Larson said.

Questionable visitors

Ring brought Taylor and a parade of questionable visitors -- including Yang -- into the supposedly high-security Criminal Intelligence Unit office when it was in downtown Seattle and later, after it was moved to Kent.

Norman Matzke, a recently retired Sheriff's Office polygraph examiner, said even other sheriff's employees couldn't get in: "It was locked. You had to ring a bell. They had a keypad. You had to have a specific reason to be there."

Ring pooh-poohed the issue.

"I didn't let her read through the files or anything," Ring said.

Taylor said she had full access. She said she went to the office frequently, sometimes two or three times a week. He showed her the "secret squirrel room" where undercover cameras and listening devices are kept, and much more.

"I was left alone in there many times. ... I could have looked in files," she said.

Once, in the mid-1990s, Taylor said, she and Ring had sex on his sergeant's desk. Taylor said Ring felt that "doing the nasty" on Sgt. Frank Kinney's desk "would be funny," she recalled.

Ring's denial was jocular. "Sex on the boss' desk? Oh, my gosh, no," Ring said, smiling. Then he added, "My sex life is private."

Perhaps the most troubling of Ring's guests in the intelligence unit was a 38-year-old computer expert and U.S. Army Reserve captain who Ring used as a confidential informant. Ring said the computer expert had information on the local drug and fraud culture because of people "he put himself in a position to know through his lifestyle." He also knew how to fix computers, so Ring said he brought him into the intelligence unit to work on their equipment.

Shortly after 9/11, the FBI investigated the computer expert as part of a forgery case. He was never charged.

Ring denies ever allowing the man out of his sight when he brought him into the unit. He added that he ultimately wrote a derogatory report about him and recommended he not be used as an informant. And Ring insists the man didn't have direct access to the unit's most sensitive data.

Investigators can't be sure what, if any, police intelligence data was compromised. Reichert said he became aware of the problem through the Ring investigation, but, "I would have no way of knowing whether he was able to look at that information and decipher it," Reichert said. "I haven't got a clue."

A unique unit

The intelligence unit is unlike any other in the Sheriff's Office. Members aren't expected to check in regularly, they have access to sophisticated spying tools, and they are assigned a job that involves sidling up to criminals.

"You can get away with stuff if you don't have a supervisor that pays close attention to you. You are doing information gathering, and very little dissemination. You don't really have a caseload, per se. You are not evaluated based on statistics," said John Tolton, a former sheriff's office intelligence detective.

One duty is driving the King County executive's car, which is, technically, an unmarked police car, though it is more luxurious.

King County Executive Ron Sims spent considerable time with Ring, both in the car and once while traveling by air to Washington, D.C., for a meeting of county officials. He's also well acquainted with Nooney.

"When you are with people day in and day out ... I've got to trust them. I have no choice," Sims said.

But when Sims wasn't in the car, Ring took advantage. Taylor described one night in the late 1990s when they used the executive's car to pick up a couple from a Christmas party put on by a hair salon where Taylor then worked. They had all been drinking, including Ring, who was driving, Taylor said. They continued to party while cruising Broadway.

"I turned on the sirens and lights," Taylor recalled, laughing. "Probably wasn't the smartest thing. Everybody was freaking out, laughing."

"That's inappropriate use of the car," Sims said.

Ring also had assigned to him an unmarked police car, which he treated as his personal car. Taylor and others said Ring regularly drank whiskey and other alcoholic drinks in the police car, but wasn't caught because he wasn't expected to keep a regular schedule. Ring denied drinking in his police car.

Investigators found Ring had misused the car for trips to Canada, and his computer e-mail to contact escort services in Vancouver, B.C., when he took trips there, and to order pornography. Ring went to Canada with Taylor, and with Rebecca Rose, one of the women he met through the Eurosport investigation.

"I have concluded that Dan Ring has lied about the legitimacy of his trips to Canada in his department car," wrote Sheriff's Capt. Cameron K. Webster, in a follow-up report on a second internal investigation of Ring that was begun immediately after Ring's arrest in January 2004.

"He claims this was for official business. It clearly was not," Webster wrote.

"He would have us believe he involved his girlfriend (Rose) in several on-site, official investigations of these businesses, even rented limos while he was doing it. ... These 'investigations' were clearly for personal reasons."

Thief or savior?

Investigators found that beginning in the late 1990s, Ring also spent much of his personal time serving as financial guardian to an elderly Seattle man named Orie John "O.J." Morrison.

Ring was introduced to Morrison through Yang, the former prostitute he'd met through Eurosport.

Yang was briefly trustee over Morrison's finances -- authority that Yang transferred to Ring in 1998. As guardian, Ring controlled Morrison's bank accounts and investments, paid for cigarettes, food and other daily needs, and helped clean up around Morrison's house, he and his attorney said.

But in charging papers, investigators said Ring took advantage of Morrison, fleecing the old man out of thousands of dollars. For instance, Ring made questionable withdrawals and purchases from Morrison's accounts, investigators say.

He used money from Morrison's bank account to buy hundreds of dollars worth of alcohol and other items from Costco, and to loan $15,500 to his girlfriend, Rose, whose ability to get a loan was compromised by a previous bankruptcy. Morrison, a non-drinker, told investigators he didn't approve the loan or purchases.

"Maybe he just forgot," Ring said.

Ring said he had permission in the trust agreement to lend money to anyone, though he admitted that Rose might not have been a good risk. He said she paid the loan back in full, "with interest."

Richard Hansen, his attorney, said Ring was Morrison's "savior" and that others had mistreated him before Ring took charge of his affairs.

"I took complete care of the guy," Ring said, adding that when he died Morrison actually owed him money.


Continue to Part 2: Sex, drugs and databases.