Monroe contractor could avoid jail time in theft

EVERETT — A Monroe contractor convicted of stealing from clients won’t see the inside of a jail cell if he completes 240 hours of community service.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel on Tuesday agreed to spare James Platt, 66, a jail sentence in large part because the defendant paid off the $450,000 settlement reached in the civil lawsuit filed by the victims in 2008.

“I will tell you if were it not for the payment, I would put you in jail today,” Appel said.

Platt faced up to 60 days behind bars. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree theft. Platt didn’t admit any wrongdoing as part of his plea but acknowledged that a jury likely would convict him.

His plea didn’t sit well with the victims, a husband and wife who hired Platt to build a house in the Kellogg Lake area in east Snohomish County. They urged the judge to send Platt to jail, saying he hasn’t show any remorse.

“He is not a man who believes the rules apply to him,” the woman said Tuesday.

Platt’s attorney, Mark Mestel, of Everett, explained to Appel it was under his advice that his client entered the plea as he did. He was concerned that more civil litigation would follow if Platt admitted any wrongdoing.

“He’s always believed his interpretation of the contract was right,” Mestel said.

Prosecutors alleged that Platt inflated bills from subcontractors and forged invoices to justify the overbilling. Investigators found that Platt and the couple in 2006 signed a contract that included a 17 percent supervision fee for Platt on top of what the subcontractors billed.

Construction began and the first bill was submitted in January 2007. Prosecutors allege Platt overinflated what subcontractors actually charged and based his fee on the bogus bills. He is accused of taking more than he was entitled from an escrow account.

When he was questioned by the couple about the bills, the defendant forged invoices, court papers said.

The unhappy customers sued Platt and a settlement was reached about three years later. Initially, Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies spoke with the customers in 2010 about the case. At that time, the couple said they were concerned a criminal investigation would jeopardize their lawsuit, court papers said. Prosecutors spoke with the couple in 2012 and decided to move forward with filing a criminal charge.

Platt has 10 months to complete his community service or he’ll face going to jail for up to 30 days.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read