Washington State Auditor indicted amid allegations of falsifying tax returns, possessing stolen property

A U.S. Grand Jury in Seattle has returned a ten count indictment against TROY X. KELLEY, 50, of Tacoma for his scheme to keep stolen money and hide it from both the IRS and those due a refund related to their purchase of a home or refinance of a home mortgage, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  KELLEY currently serves as the elected Washington State Auditor.  The majority of the criminal conduct detailed in the indictment spans years prior to KELLEY’s election to statewide office.  However, some of the criminal conduct detailed in the indictment occurred following his election.  KELLEY is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.

 

“Mr. Kelley spun a web of lies in an effort to avoid paying his taxes and keep more than a million dollars that he knew did not belong to him, but instead should have been returned to thousands of homeowners across this state,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “I commend the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation for their diligent work to piece together the voluminous records that form the basis for the charges in this case.”

 

According to the indictment, between 2003 and 2008, KELLEY operated a business that was paid by real estate title companies to track documents related to real estate sales and refinancings.  KELLEY had agreements with those companies for the fees he could charge in connection with the document-tracking work.  While the title companies withheld $100-$150 on each loan to pay the fee, the bulk of the money was to be returned to the borrower with KELLEY’s company being paid $15- $20 per transaction.  However, the indictment alleges, in most cases, KELLEY kept the entire amount withheld on each loan resulting in more than $2 million in stolen money.  This conduct is the basis for count one of the indictment:  Possession and concealment of stolen property.  When the amount withheld by title companies became the subject of civil litigation, the indictment alleges KELLEY obstructed the litigation, repeatedly lying in a declaration and in depositions while under oath.  For this conduct KELLEY is charged with four counts of false declarations and one count of attempted obstruction of a civil lawsuit.  Further, the indictment alleges KELLEY failed to pay federal taxes and obstructed the IRS in its efforts to collect taxes from him.  He is charged with corrupt interference with Internal Revenue laws and two counts of filing false income tax returns.  Finally, KELLEY is charged with making false statements to Internal Revenue Service agents who questioned him about his scheme in April 2013.

 

“Today’s action demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law,” stated Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of IRS Criminal Investigation.  “IRS CI is committed to unraveling the complex financial transactions individuals might use to attempt to conceal their taxable income.  To build faith in our tax system, honest taxpayers must be confident that everyone is paying their fair share.”

“The public deserves integrity and honesty from elected officials,” said Special Agent in Charge Frank Montoya, Jr., of the FBI’s Seattle Division.  “For that reason, identifying and investigating public corruption is a top priority for the FBI.”

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 

Possession and concealment of stolen property is punishable by up to ten years in prison.  Attempted obstruction of civil litigation is punishable by up to twenty years in prison.  False declarations and false statements are punishable by up to five years in prison.  The remaining charges are punishable by up to three years in prison.

 

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the FBI.

 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Arlen Storm, Kathryn Frierson and Andrew Friedman.

Satsop Business Park looking for “big business” to lease 300,000 square foot Turbine Building

If ‘big’ is your business, then the Satsop Business Park’s Turbine Building is the place for you.   The Turbine Building is now available for lease after being occupied the last five years by a tank manufacturing company.

How big is “big”?  The 300,000 square foot facility is well suited for heavy industrial/manufacturing including tank construction, aerospace and large component construction for industrial and energy projects.  The building features three stories with 11 cranes.  The top floor has two 250-ton cranes and the bottom floor has nine cranes ranging from five to ten tons.

Only 30 minutes from Olympia and the I-5 corridor, the Turbine Building at the Satsop Business Park is ready to serve your business’s needs with redundant electrical power, four separate fiber connections coming from different locations and various providers, water, and a newly constructed, state-of-the-art sewer system.

“The Turbine Building is a prime example of the unique infrastructure the Satsop Business Park has to offer to grow your business”, said Alissa Shay, Business Development Manager at Satsop Business Park.  “We are confident there are businesses out there that could benefit from what the Turbine Building has to offer.”

atson Business Park - Turbine Building

The structure is distinctive in that it was originally designed to house steam turbine generators for the twin nuclear plants that were never finished.  With ten acres of laydown area, there is plenty of room for storage and parking.  Additionally, there are 14,300 square feet of flexible office space including cubicles, a kitchen and conference room.

For more information on what the turbine building has to offer, visit http://www.satsop.com/turbine-building.html.

Business Park, a facility of the Port of Grays Harbor, is less than 2 hours southwest of Seattle and 2 hours north of Portland.  Located in scenic Grays Harbor County in Elma, Washington, the 1,800 acre mixed-use business and industrial park is approximately 30 minutes from Olympia and the I-5 Corridor. A part of the Grays Harbor Innovation Partnership Zone, it is home to more than 30 businesses, offers 600 acres of developed, pad-ready land and buildings supported by super-sized infrastructure, surrounded by 1,200 acres of sustainable managed forestland.

Swinomish Tribe says “No More Oil Trains on Our Land”

A Native American tribe says too many trains, some of which carry volatile Bakken crude, are crossing its reservation and it’s suing the rail company to stop them.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community alleges BNSF Railway is violating an easement agreement made in 1991. The agreement set limits on the numbers and lengths of trains to cross this part of the Puget Sound area, and requires the rail company to inform the Tribe about the types of cargo.

Tribal chairman Brian Cladoosby says getting oil to a coastal refinery seems to have taken precedence over the original deal.

“The last letter we received from them indicated they weren’t going to abide by our agreement, and that they had to provide this [crude] to the Tesoro refinery,” says Cladoosby. “So, they basically indicated they were going to keep doing what they’re doing.”

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle asks that BNSF stick to the original agreement: one train per day in each direction across the reservation, of no more than 25 cars in length, with the added specification of no Bakken crude on those trains.

Cladoosby says oil trains of more than 100 cars began crossing the reservation in 2012, and the Tribe has been asking about them since then. He says spills or worse aren’t risks the Tribe is willing to take.

“The trains run in real close proximity to our economic development area,” Cladoosby says. “Where we have our casino, our hotel, our bingo hall, our gas station, our RV park, our sewer treatment plant. So, it’s pretty close proximity.”

In a report last month, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission cited 14 instances in which hazardous materials leaked from BNSF rail cars in a recent four-month period, and the commission claims not all were reported promptly.

BNSF said it found inaccuracies in “more than 90 percent of those allegations.” The company has ordered 5,000 new and updated oil tank cars.

Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.
Members of the Swinomish Tribe, seen here at a tribal ceremony, are concerned that long trains of oil tank cars are crossing their reservation every week, a development the Tribe says violates its 1991 easement agreement with a rail company. Photo credit: Leslie Dierauf/U.S. Geological Survey.

Olympic National Park Seeks Volunteer Citizen Scientists to Study Olympic Marmots

The Olympic National Park is now accepting volunteer applications for the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program 2015 survey season. Launched in 2010, the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program employs teams of volunteers to visit designated survey areas within the park and gather timely and vital information about the Olympic marmot’s population presence and distribution.

The Olympic marmot (Marmota olympus) is an iconic species of the Olympic Peninsula. They are the official endemic mammal of the state of Washington, found only in the alpine meadows within the park and surrounding National Forest and nowhere else in the world.

An Olympic marmot seen at Hurricane Hill, holds the root of a plant in its paw. Ken and Mary Campbell
An Olympic marmot seen at Hurricane Hill, holds the root of a plant in its paw.
Photo: Ken and Mary Campbell

Tracking Olympic marmot populations and monitoring their changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis. Through cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, monitoring occurs over the species’ entire range.

More than 90 volunteers participate in the project each year, hailing from the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle/Tacoma area, and as far away as Portland, Oregon and British Columbia.

“Over the last five years, the outstanding work and dedication of our marmot citizen scientists has provided important information for continued protection of the Olympic marmot,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Citizen Science programs provide valuable data and unique opportunities for volunteers to take part in in research that influences the management of their park.”

Volunteers must be capable of hiking to and camping in remote areas, navigating off-trail, and working on steep slopes. Survey trips are one to eight days in length. Most survey areas are located between five and twenty miles from a trailhead or road and involve a one or two day hike with significant elevation gain. Survey groups camp out in or near the survey areas and search for marmots for two to four days.

A limited number of day hike assignments are available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge and Obstruction Point survey areas.

Volunteers work in groups of two to six people. To ensure safety, volunteers must travel and monitor with a partner. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

All volunteers are required to participate in a one-day training that includes both classroom and field instruction. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation. Camping fees will be waived at Heart O’ the Hills and other front-country sites for the evening before training. Park entrance and backcountry fees will also be waived for volunteers.

The 2015 application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted, or last longer if some trips remain unfilled. After the 2015 survey season, the program will be on hiatus for several years to allow researchers to analyze the data and evaluate how frequently the program needs to be conducted in order to effectively track the marmot population, so interested people should apply soon!

The Marmot Monitoring Program is made possible by donations through Washington’s National Park Fund. To learn more about Washington’s National Park Fund or contribute please visit http://wnpf.org.

To learn more and to apply to be a Marmot Citizen Scientist,  visits the park’s website, www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/olympic-marmot-monitoring.htm.

A short video about the project and the marmot monitor training can be found at http://nwparkscience.org/node/1044.

Program Overview and Results of the 2014 Field Season

This was our 5th full year of the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program, and the 3rd year adding lands on Olympic National Forest. With the addition of USFS lands the program now encompasses the entire range of the species –pretty sobering. In 2014 we had 70 volunteers in 28 groups participate in the program;a total of 3040 volunteer hours were donated.Volunteer training was held on four Wednesdays in the months of August and September.Following training, surveyors spent from 1-8 days in a variety of areas of the Park and Forest, ranging from the front-country on Hurricane Hill to deep in the parkon Skyline Ridge.Volunteer surveyors in all regions traversed high-elevation meadows and rock-fields looking for and documenting sign of marmots and marmot burrows. The late season snowpack was below average;consequently access was not limited by snowfields in 2014. Volunteers surveyed for marmots in 239 survey units located in 50 habitat clusters. Surveyors were able to completely survey 215 units and partially survey 24 others (Figure 2).

2014 Survey Results

Figure 2.  Location of survey units and survey results for units that were completely surveyed in 2013.
NPS
Core Sites graph

Of the units that were completely surveyed in the core clusters in the Park in 2014, 52% were found to be occupied by marmots, 18% were abandoned (surveyors saw past but not recent sign of marmot use) and 30% had no sign of marmots.The rate of occupancy has varied between 53 and 48 % during the 5 years of the survey, and appears to be stable (Figure 3).

Graph of USFS marmot monitoring sites

USFS Sites: Unlike the survey units in the park, the USFS survey units were not ground-truthed prior to the 2012 survey season. Ground-truthing occurred throughout the 2012 and 2013 season. Of the 46 survey units identified on USFS lands, volunteers were able to completely survey 17, partially survey 8, and unable to survey 21. The reasons for the incomplete or lack of survey varied, ranging from unsuitable habitat, too steep, or not enough time to get to all the units in the allotted time frame. Of the 17 units that were completely surveyed, only 12% (2) were occupied by marmots in 2013. As these survey areas are continuing to be refined, these data should be viewed with caution.


Conclusions and Plans for 2015
We are going to do one more year of monitoring (2015) and then take a break for data analysis.We plan to work with some statisticians and not only look at the trends in the marmot population, but also evaluate the strengths and weakness of the monitoring program, and see if we need to make any modifications to the study design or implementation plan.Depending on the results of the analysis, we hope to be back up and running with the program in 2017 or 2018.

Acknowledgements
In 2014 this project was supported by a continuing grant from Washington’s National Park Fund and funding from the U.S.F.S, Olympic National Forest. Training space was provided by Peninsula College. This whole endeavor would not have been possible without the hard work of the volunteer citizen scientists!

Triple play on the way as final pontoons for new SR 520 bridge leave Aberdeen

As baseball fans cheer the start of a new season, the Washington State Department of Transportation is celebrating a major milestone for the new State Route 520 floating bridge. The final three pontoons built for the bridge are in the process of leaving Grays Harbor today and should arrive in Seattle as soon as Thursday, April 9, 2015.

The football-field-size structures will then move through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard on their way to Lake Washington. There, they’ll join the 74 previously constructed pontoons that together will support the world’s longest floating bridge. The Locks are a popular location to see the pontoons, as are other viewpoints in the Seattle area.

A pontoon photo contest on Twitter is now underway, offering creative shutterbugs the chance to win a tour of the new floating bridge as it’s built on Lake Washington. Five winners will be selected for the best pontoon photos, as judged by Jon Marmor, editor of the University of Washington’s Columns Magazine. Past photos of SR 520 pontoons will be accepted, as will new photos. Submissions will be accepted through 12 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2015.

“This contest is a fun way to acknowledge the four years of hard work that went into building the 77 bridge pontoons,” said Dave Becher, WSDOT engineering manager with the SR 520 Floating Bridge and Landings Project. “The new bridge will serve as a vital connection for communities on both sides of the lake for decades to come, and this photo contest will help us commemorate this great milestone.”

WSDOT contractors built pontoons for the new SR 520 floating bridge in Aberdeen and Tacoma. Of the 33 constructed in Grays Harbor County, 21, including the final three, are the massive longitudinal pontoons – 360 feet long, three stories high, and 11,000 tons. They form the backbone of the new bridge.

Contractor crews on the lake continue to bolt together and anchor pontoons in their final position. The new bridge, with six lanes, a shoulder for disabled vehicles, and a bicycle/pedestrian path, is designed to resist stronger windstorms than the current bridge. The new bridge is scheduled to open in spring 2016.

For information on road closures associated with SR 520 construction, visit the SR 520 Orange Page and follow us on Twitter.

Coast Guard seeks public comment on waterways analysis study of Grays Harbor

 

Coast Guard officials are seeking public comment while conducting a waterways analysis and management system review of Grays Harbor.

Officials are seeking information from local mariners regarding the general use of the waterways and any issues with the visibility, placement or location of aids to navigation in that area before the comment deadline of Jan. 31, 2015.

This WAMS is the second combined WAMS and includes five old waterways: Grays Harbor Main Channel, Hoquiam Reach, North Bay, South Channel and South Bay.

Coast Guard officials use WAMS to validate the adequacy of the existing aids to navigation systems and to get a better understanding of the uses of each waterway and general safety issues. WAMS focuses on the waterway’s present ATON system, marine casualty information, port and harbor resources, changes in recreational and commercial marine vessel usage and future dredging and development projects.

Continue reading Coast Guard seeks public comment on waterways analysis study of Grays Harbor

High wind warning issued, Grays Harbor Emergency Management warns clam diggers

CLAM DIG ALERT – HIGH WIND WARNING ISSUED

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a HIGH WIND WARNING for much of Western Washington, including Grays Harbor County from 5pm Saturday afternoon to 11pm Saturday evening.

Some Affected Locations, Westport, Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Montesano.

*** CLAM DIG ALERT ***

*** DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK TO THE SEA. ***

LOW TIDE IS EXPECTED @ 8:22 PM SATURDAY EVENING. LOW TIDE WILL OCCUR DURING THE MOST VOLITILE PART OF THE STORM IMPACTING THE COASTAL REGION. CLAM DIGGERS NEED TO BE ALERT FOR WAVES SWEEPING UP THE BEACHES FARTHER THAN USUAL DUE TO HIGH WIND AND STORM SURGE CONDITIONS.  WAVES WILL BE STRONG ENOUGH TO SWEEP A PERSON, PET OR CHILD OUT TO SEA.

The wind will begin from the South 15 to 25 mph this afternoon, switching to West or Northwest 25 to 40 MPH with to Gusts to 60 mph along the coastal regions. Strong gusts may continue into the early morning hours on Sunday. These are the highest forecast wind gusts so far this year.

Winds this strong can snap small tree branches topple small or shallow rooted trees, and cause local power outages.

A High Wind Warning Means That a Hazardous Wind Event is Imminent or Occurring.

Also associated with this storm may be thunderstorms with heavy rain. Minor flooding could occur in low lying areas as well as create major puddling on highways and streets making driving extremely hazardous, especially at night.

Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is urging all residents to prepare for the severe weather that has been forecast. When the strong winds and rain arrive, power outages are likely to occur. Do not approach fallen trees, branches or power lines. Check your generators. Do not use generators indoors. Do not refuel portable space heaters indoors. Never use your oven or barbeque grill to heat your home. Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will continue to monitor the forecast with the National Weather Service.

Remember to call 911 ONLY in a true emergency. During severe weather events, 911 receives a high increase of calls. Please do not call 911 to receive weather updates or for road conditions. You can receive the most up to date information from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management on Facebook, Twitter and on the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Website at http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/Index.asp

 

Flood Watch issued for Western Washington

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Flood Watch to include portions of Western Washington including Grays Harbor County from late tonight through Wednesday afternoon.

The Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency reports  heavy rainfall amounts of 5 to 8 inches are possible tonight into early Wednesday along the Southwestern and Western Olympics. This amount of rainfall could cause the Quinault, Clearwater, Bogachiel, Hoh, and other rivers flowing off the Olympics to flood late tonight Into Wednesday.

A Flood Watch means conditions are favorable for flooding but flooding is NOT imminent or occurring.

Wind Advisory for Grays Harbor, Warning for Pacific County

Strong winds forecast for Western Washington have prompted two separate alerts from the National Weather Service.

Pacific County and Southwestern Washington:

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a high wind warning near beaches and headlands…which is in effect from 3 pm this afternoon to 9 am pdt wednesday. this replaces the high wind watch which was previously in effect.

* winds: near beaches and headlands…south winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts 60 to 70 mph at times. coastal communities…south winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts 45 to 55 mph at times.

* timing: beginning late this afternoon and continuing until just after sunrise wednesday morning.

* locations include: cannon beach…netarts…pacific city… long beach…cape disappointment.

* impacts: the winds will likely cause difficulties for beachgoers and those accessing beach and headland areas…including causing tree damage in headland areas.

precautionary/preparedness actions…

a high wind warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage.

 

Grays Harbor County and Northwest Washington:

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Wind Advisory in effect from 5pm this afternoon to 8 am Wednesday morning.

South wind 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph will increase this evening and peak overnight.

Impacts, winds this strong can snap small tree branches, topple small or shallow rooted trees, and cause
local power outages.

A Wind Advisory is issued when sustained winds of 30 to 39 mph and/or gusts of 45 to 57 mph are likely.

Harborview Medical Center ready to accept Ebola patients

Harborview Medical Center has volunteered to become one of the hospitals willing to consider receiving U.S. patients evacuated from Western Africa for treatment of Ebola. The decision follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s request last week to find hospitals around the country that could treat citizens who have been on the frontlines of the international crisis.

“Consistent with Harborview Medical Center’s mission and role of serving the public in Seattle, King County and our region, we’re willing to consider accepting U.S. residents who may be infected with Ebola,” said Dr. Timothy Dellit, associate medical director of the Seattle hospital. “It will depend on the hospital’s current capacity and our ability to maintain our critical functions.”

There are no patients with Ebola in Washington, and there are no plans to evacuate patients to the region in the near future. However, the hospital and state and local health officials are ready.

“Harborview and other Washington hospitals have precautions in place to ensure the safety of health care providers and other patients if someone with Ebola is brought in for treatment,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, communicable disease epidemiologist for the state department of health. “The public wouldn’t be in danger.”

The disease is spread through direct contact with blood, body fluids, or excretions from an infected person. The lack of infection-control measures and medical supplies in Western Africa has been the key factor in allowing the virus to reach epidemic proportions. Health officials note the dramatically different conditions between the health care systems and infrastructure in the United States and West Africa.

The Department of Health and local health agencies have sent hospitals and health care providers information on infection control and screening to help them quickly identify symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus.

“We may or may not see a case of Ebola locally,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief communicable disease epidemiologist for Public Health-Seattle and King County. “Even if a traveler with Ebola did come to Seattle, the risk of that person causing an outbreak is almost zero. However, our health care and public health systems are preparing to promptly recognize and safely evaluate people who may be infected with Ebola.”