Sergeant facing prosecution in prostitution case resigns

EVERETT — A Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant who faces criminal prosecution for his ties to an alleged bikini-barista prostitution ring has resigned, officials said Tuesday.

Darrell O’Neill, 58, was arrested in June for investigation of promoting prostitution and official misconduct. Everett police allege that he was tipping off the coffee stands’ owners to undercover operations in exchange for sexual favors.

O’Neill submitted his resignation in writing Tuesday.

“Our internal investigation ends the minute that person separates from employment,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. “We just close it out.”

Several women also were arrested in the case on suspicion of prostitution-related offenses. One of them, Carmela Panico, had ties to a Seattle crime family who, before their demise, operated Snohomish County’s last strip club along Highway 99, according to police records.

Federal prosecutors closed Honey’s, which was owned by the Colacurcio family, after an investigation found rampant prostitution activity.

A criminal investigation by the Everett Police Department is ongoing. O’Neill’s law enforcement authority was suspended after his arrest. He also was placed on leave. He’d been with the sheriff’s office about 30 years.

O’Neill is accused of giving the baristas warnings about police investigations, including descriptions of undercover officers and cars. The women at the Java Juggs stands in Everett, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Kent are accused of using the coffee stands as “drive-through strip clubs or brothels,” according to court papers.

Court documents also say O’Neill was given sexual favors in exchange for his help.

Video surveillance shows O’Neill arriving at the stands in his uniform and patrol car. He allegedly is seen hugging and kissing several of the baristas. Investigators say he also used state computers to check the license plates of people visiting the stands.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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