SEATTLE — A veteran King County sheriff’s deputy was accused Thursday of promoting his estranged wife’s prostitution, stealing spent brass and ammunition from the department’s range where he worked and selling steroids.
King County prosecutors charged Darrion Holiwell, 49, with three counts, including second-degree promoting prostitution, first-degree theft and a controlled-substance violation.
The 19-year-veteran and member of the SWAT team was arrested and booked into King County Jail on Thursday morning. It was not immediately clear whether Holiwell had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
“This is a form of police corruption,” Sheriff John Urquhart said at a news conference Thursday. Urquhart said he was flabbergasted by the events and planned “to root out this kind of behavior.”
The sheriff’s office is investigating “to find out how deep it goes” and whether top commanders were involved or should have known about the alleged theft, including the sale of spent metal bullets from the Ravensdale range where Holiwell has been assigned since 2006, Urquhart said.
Investigators have interviewed 10 high-ranking deputies, who said they did not know anything about the theft, he added.
The sheriff said Holiwell set up his estranged wife as an escort for several months last year while he was off work with an injury. Holiwell paid for some of the ads on escort websites and collected about 80 percent of the proceeds, Urquhart said.
His wife told a King County detective that she began her escort business after moving of the home she had shared with her husband, and that she would initially tell him when she had an appointment and when she was done, according to charging documents.
She also told detectives he sought out advice on how to run the escort business from a friend of his, the documents show.
Urquhart called Holiwell’s wife “a willing escort” but noted that she was a victim.
The sheriff’s office investigation also found that Holiwell took metal brass from spent bullets and ammunition from the county range where he worked and sold about 19,000 pounds to three gun shops to create “a slush fund,” Urquhart said. The money was used to “basically trick out” weapons for himself and the SWAT team, he added.
Holiwell and two other were placed on paid administrative leave, including a detective who allegedly tipped off Holiwell to the investigation, Urquhart said.
When a search warrant was served at his house, detectives did not find any firearms or ammunition, Urquhart said.
Authorities learned of Holiwell’s activities earlier this year when his estranged wife contacted his ex-wife and told her about Holiwell’s alleged domestic violence. Coincidentally, the ex-wife cuts hair for a sheriff’s deputy, who reported the information to her superiors.
Urquhart defended the department’s decision to keep the investigation in-house, rather than asking another police department to handle it, saying it would be quicker. He said he consulted with the FBI and informed the U.S. Attorney’s Office.