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.

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!

DNR purchase on Olympic Peninsula adds to wildlife habitat and working forest

At its regular monthly public meeting this week, the Board of Natural Resources authorized the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase 1,720 acres of forestland north of the Quinault Indian Reservation on the western Olympic Peninsula. The $5.2 million purchase from The Nature Conservancy will be funded by the proceeds from previous sales and state-funded conservation transfers of under-productive trust lands.

 

“We’re grateful for the partnership with The Nature Conservancy in purchasing this land,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the board. “It will benefit future trust beneficiaries and our conservation commitments on the Olympic Peninsula.”

 

The new purchase will become part of the Olympic State Experimental Forest, which DNR manages under its Habitat Conservation Plan for timber revenue to trust land beneficiaries, including the Common School Trust. About $4 million of the site’s purchase price is represented by its standing timber, the majority of which will be ready for harvest in ten to twenty years.

 

Park land for eastern King County

The board today also authorized a $3.025 million direct transfer (sale) of just over 122 acres of forestland to King County to include in its Patterson Creek Park Natural Area. The site, located between Sammamish and Issaquah, is nearly surrounded by residential development. DNR will use the sale’s proceeds to purchase forestland better suited for producing revenue for the Common School Trust.

 

Trust land transfers in Klickitat and Thurston counties

The board also approved two transactions through the legislatively funded Trust Land Transfer program:

 

  • Eight hundred and nineteen acres of forested Common School Trust property will be transferred to the Klickitat Canyon Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). The property, which straddles the Yakima-Klickitat county line, is three miles north of Glenwood. The ecologically diverse area includes several rare plants identified as threatened and endangered. The $2.1 million provided by the Trust Land Transfer program for the parcel will support public school construction projects statewide and purchase replacement land better suited for producing natural resources revenue for the Common School Trust.
  • Five hundred and forty-seven acres of forest and wetlands near the town of Elbe in Thurston County will be transferred to Tacoma Public Utilities. The property’s limited road access and isolation from other DNR-managed trust lands make it inefficient to manage for timber harvest revenue. The $4.68 million provided by the Trust Land Transfer program for the parcel will support public school construction projects statewide and purchase replacement land better suited for producing natural resources revenue for the Common School Trust.

 

DNR… caring for your natural resources
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, range, commercial, agricultural, conservation, and aquatic lands. More than half of these lands are held in trust and produce income to support public schools, county services, universities, prisons, and other state institutions. The Board of Natural Resources adopts broad-based policies and approves major commodity sales and all land transactions for state lands.

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.

Fishing vessel crew saves 2 near Grays Harbor

The crew of a fishing vessel rescued two men from the water near buoy 24 in Grays Harbor, Washington, Sunday.

The men, one 72-year-old and one 53-year-old, both Tacoma residents, were safely transferred to a Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor crew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, and taken to the station where they were met by EMS personnel and treated for signs of hypothermia.

Coast Guard Sector Columbia River watchstanders received a call from the fishermen at 11:49 a.m. reporting that they had rescued two men from the water near the Grays Harbor South Jetty.

The two men were aboard their 16-foot boat when a wave reportedly capsized them and they were thrown into the water. They were estimated to have been floating at sea for four to five hours while an incoming tide helped carry them into Grays Harbor where they were eventually rescued.

“The help and watchful lookout by the fishermen saved two men today,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Zariczny, an operations specialist and search and rescue coordinator at Sector Columbia River. “The life jackets the two boaters were wearing were vital in their rescue. However, without the help of the fishing vessel crew, we may never have known they were out there and in trouble.”

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to have essential safety equipment on board their vessel, including life jackets, flares, and most importantly a way to call for help in an emergency. Having a VHF marine radio to call for help, or to be carrying an emergency position indicating radio beacon, is essential for letting someone know you need help.

Both men were treated and released by EMS personnel.

The exact position of the sunken vessel is unknown. Mariners are encouraged to keep a safe lookout for any hazards as they transit in and out of Grays Harbor. There are no reports of pollution from the sunken vessel.

Quinault Elders in Aberdeen traffic accident Tuesday

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — A tribal spokesman says eight Quinault Indian Nation tribal elders and staff members have been injured in a traffic crash in Aberdeen.

Spokesman Steve Robinson says the Quinault group was headed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday morning when their van collided with a pickup truck. Robinson says two elders were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, one with a broken pelvis and the other with a broken pelvis and broken ribs. Other injuries in the crash included broken bones, bumps and bruises.

None of the injuries was considered critical.

The crash caused the van to flip over. Robinson says the two people in the pickup were not seriously hurt.

“The truck just came out of nowhere,” one of the victims said. The accident put an abrupt end to the elders’ plans to attend a conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Upon hearing of the accident, tribal staff rushed to provide support.
“This was a terrible accident,” said Tribal Councilman Larry Ralston. “The Tribe and the families will take every precaution with our elders and provide all the support we can to help nurse them back to health. I just wish people would slow down and be more cautious,” he said. Preliminary indications are that the pickup truck ran a red light when it crashed into the tribal van. The accident is being investigated by local authorities.
Among other things, the Tribe is setting up grief counseling, as a precaution, for the seniors and their families.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible accident,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Nation. “We do all we can to keep our seniors safe. They are very precious to us. We extend our gratitude to the local police, Harborview, and Grays Harbor Community Hospital and all other emergency services personnel who rendered aid in this morning’s emergency.”
The names of the victims were withheld until consent to publish them is provided.

Bishop Center for Performing Arts receives ArtsWA Innovation grant

The Bishop Center for Performing Arts at Grays Harbor College is among several Washington State arts organizations who have been awarded grants as part of ArtsWA’s inaugural Innovations Incentives Program. Arts organizations applied for the Incentives awards as part of the annual competitive Grants to Organizations projects support process.

The Bishop Center was awarded $2,000 in the Level B catagory, according to their website, they received a Project Support grant of $2,400 last year to increase access to, and participation in cultural opportunities. “This year we offered professional arts organizations a chance to compete for an extra $1,000 to $3,000 for innovative projects that will increase art participation with young adults and diverse audiences,” said Mayumi Tsutakawa, ArtsWA Grants Program Manager. “As a result, Innovations Incentives grants were awarded in each of the project support levels for fiscal year 2015. These incentive awards were in addition to the amount ArtsWA granted to the organizations for their FY 2015 project support funds.”

The Innovations Incentives awards are an outgrowth of ArtsWA’s Arts Participation Leadership Initiative (APLI), a five-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation that investigates methods arts organizations can use to broaden, deepen and diversify their participating audiences, supporters and artists. This subsequent pilot program focused on projects that addressed young adults and racially diverse demographic groups, and emphasized projects that employed new uses of social media and technology.

 

$1,000 –  Level A (Arts Organizations with an annual budget of $200,000 or less)

Mid Columbia Mastersingers / Richland
The grant will be used to introduce dramatic staging elements and operatic treatment in the “All Creatures Great and Small” performance of Benjamin Britten’s “Noye’s Fludde” (Noah’s Flood). Mid Columbia Mastersingers are working to draw a larger and more diverse audience to this project which will help to increase the interest in choral music.
Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra (SWOJO) / Seattle
To initiate an online music publishing division for SWOJO’s unique jazz ensemble composition contest for women composers. The purpose is to expand participation in, awareness of, and access to, the contributions of women composers in jazz.
Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia / Olympia

To pilot “Media on the Mezz.” This program dedicates the mezzanine level in the Washington Center for the Performing Arts for audience members who will use their phones and cameras to post comments, photos and video clips on social media during the concerts. The goal is to attract and encourage young audience members to use social media as an integrated approach to audience development.

$2,000 – Level B (Arts Organizations with an annual budget between $200,000 to $1 million)


Earshot Jazz / Seattle

Incentives funds will be used to involve young professional artists to help curate the 2015 Earshot Jazz Festival. The goals are to create a more diverse range of content and also to build future presenters and audiences.

 

Richard Hugo House / Seattle
Richard Hugo House plans to use Innovations Incentives funds to videotape its Lit Series and Word Works readings, making them available on its website and e-newsletters. The project will help writers investigate craft and help Richard Hugo House expand audiences.

Seattle JazzEd / Seattle

Seattle JazzEd plans to partner with Odessa Brown Clinic, presenting youth music classes and concerts at the inner city health center. Funds will also be used for the JazzEd staff to receive training to help them better serve the social/economic needs of its students.

$3,000 – Level C (Arts Institutions with an annual budget of over $1 million)

On the Boards (OtB) / Seattle

OtB will strengthen diversity in its community with the Ambassador Project, convening 15 individuals from a cross-section of Seattle’s creative industry and arts community to serve as ambassadors. It envisions the project will create conversations about aesthetics and community issues. These new ambassador voices will help interpret performances, lead artist questions & answers and broaden attendance; including curating the 12 Minutes Max performance lab; creating artist-to-artist dialogues; and producing workshops and collaborative performances that contextualize mainstage pieces.

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra (TSO) / Tacoma

Tacoma Symphony will create the Mini Maestros Program in partnership with Lakewood Boys & Girls Club, targeting low income families in the South Tacoma area. Its goal is to inspire and provide access to quality live music and education events, working to reduce psychological barriers to classical music programs. TSO plans to use the Innovations Incentives grant to improve overall academic fitness by involving children in the arts.

Man dies in Capitol Forest after UTV rolls

A 53 year old Tacoma man died in the Capitol Forest over the weekend, Trooper Howson with the Washington State Patrol reports the man’s 2014 Kawasaki KRT800 rolled down an embankment off of the B-line around 1:30 Saturday. Two passengers in the UTV, A 30 year old Tacoma man, and a 48 year old Spanaway man were not injured.

Relay for Life founder passes away, leaving a worldwide legacy

The founder of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Dr. Gordon Klatt, passed away over the weekend. The 71 year old retired Tacoma Oncologist was battling stomach cancer, and a heart condition. He started the relay in 1985 and raised $27,000 as a tribute to a young man who had died of cancer, in 1986 Tacoma held their first relay, Grays Harbor was the second in 1987. In 1994 the American Cancer Society adopted Klatt’s event nationwide and to date the events have been held in 23 countries and has raised nearly $5-billion.

One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than with the story of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which began in Tacoma, Washington, as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed—running marathons.

In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

While he circled the track those 24 hours, he thought about how others could take part. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Months later he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the colorful, historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield.

In 2012, Dr. Gordy Klatt was awarded the 2012 Humanitarian of the Year Award from his alma mater, the University of St. Thomas.

Watch Gordy’s 2011 Message of Support to the Relay Nation on YouTube »

Watch Gordy’s 2009 Message of Support to the Relay Nation on YouTube »

Additional Pages of Interest

National Team Partners Relay Forum
International Relay For Life Training Room
Colleges & Youth Fundraising Ideas
Bark For Life Relay Awards
Team Captain Toolkit Relay For Life of Second Life

 

Measles case count up from last year, continuing to spread in Western Washington

Washington has had more measles cases so far this year than in the past five years combined. State health officials are sounding the alarm to remind people that vaccination is the best protection against the spread of this serious and preventable disease.

So far in 2014 there have been 27 measles cases in Washington, up from the five reported in 2013. The most recent cases reported in the past month have been in King County (11 confirmed cases) and Pierce County (two confirmed cases). This is the third measles outbreak in our state this year and the number of cases so far is the highest reported in any year since 1996. People can check the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Multicare websites for a list of places visited by cases while they were contagious. Anyone who visited places at the listed dates and times should find out if they’ve been vaccinated for measles or have had the disease.

Washington’s trend reflects the national trend. From Jan. 1 to July 3 of this year, the U.S. has experienced, the highest number of cases since elimination of ongoing measles virus circulation in the U.S. was documented in 2000.  Almost all of these cases are attributed to 17 outbreaks.

The resurgence is linked to several factors — people not being vaccinated, and the fact that measles is still common in many parts of the world including parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Travelers with the measles continue to bring the disease to the U.S. and it spreads when it reaches communities where groups of people aren’t vaccinated.

Continue reading Measles case count up from last year, continuing to spread in Western Washington