Former sheriff’s sergeant pleads not guilty in barista case

EVERETT — A former Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he tipped off bikini baristas in exchange for sexual favors.

Darrell O’Neill, a deputy for 30 years, is charged with felony second-degree promotion of prostitution with aggravating factors of abuse of a position of trust and having engaged in a major economic offense. He’s also charged with two counts of official misconduct, gross misdemeanors alleging he intentionally refrained from his duty.

O’Neill allegedly warned baristas working for Java Juggs stands when their businesses were targeted by undercover officers.

He was arrested in June after repeatedly undercutting police investigating what appears to have been a highly profitable sex-for-money business at the stands, according to prosecutors.

Wearing a suit and standing beside his attorney Mark Mestel, O’Neill entered his pleas in Snohomish County Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

A trial date was set for Nov. 7 after he waived his right to a speedy trial.

O’Neill, 58, was arrested after police in Everett, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Kent raided seven espresso stands in June 2013. He later retired.

The investigation found the Java Juggs stands hired young women who have worked as strippers and escorts and “essentially operate as drive-through strip clubs or brothels,” court papers say.

The investigation focused on conspiracy to promote prostitution, money laundering and leading organized crime. According to a search warrant in the case, a key figure in the investigation is Carmela Panico, 51, described as the owner of the Java Juggs coffee huts. She’s under investigation for promoting prostitution and permitting prostitution.

O’Neill allegedly has admitted a stand worker engaged in sexually explicit shows for him and sometimes engaged with him in sex acts, according to court papers.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Son arrested for hitting father on head at Marysville home

The father grabbed a metal rod and struck his son in the head, too. Both needed medical treatment.

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Paine Field fire chief will be allowed to retire

In his letter, the airport director noted Jeff Bohnet was leaving while under investigation.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Mayor tries new tactic to curb fire department overtime

Stephanson says an engine won’t go into service when the only available staff would be on overtime.

Most Read