County official fired after being accused of lewd act

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s planning director was fired last week after a woman complained that he exposed himself and assaulted her while drunk at a golf tournament hosted by the Master Builder’s Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

Craig Ladiser, 59, denied assaulting the woman but admitted he is an alcoholic and said he can’t remember much of what happened during the June 24 golf tournament.

The director of Planning and Development Services since 2004, Ladiser had been on administrative leave since July 8. That’s when county Executive Aaron Reardon received a letter of complaint about Ladiser’s behavior from the woman, who is an employee of the Master Builder’s Association working on development issues in Snohomish County.

The woman wrote that Ladiser exposed his genitals and rubbed up against her.

Ladiser acknowledged that he likely exposed himself at the golf tournament, according to an internal investigation conducted by the county. In a statement e-mailed to The Herald on Monday, Ladiser said alcohol addiction caused his behavior and he’s seeking treatment.

“I am committed to maintaining my sobriety, and am working day by day to restore the trust of friends and family,” Ladiser said in the statement.

He said he doesn’t intend to try to get his county job back.

The alleged misconduct occurred during Ladiser’s personal time off and the county didn’t know about what happened until the woman sent her letter, said Reardon spokesman Christopher Schwarzen.

Attached to the letter was a copy of a June 29 e-mail Ladiser sent to the woman, apologizing for his actions. Ladiser wrote that he’d “just heard of something that happened.”

“I am seeking counseling immediately and will tender my resignation at the county,” Ladiser wrote. “I have no excuses for the behavior. I am truly sorry.”

Ladiser was on temporary leave at the time dealing with a personal matter when Reardon received the letter of complaint from the woman, Schwarzen said. Ladiser’s leave, which began on June 29, had nothing to do with the June 24 incident at the golf course, Schwarzen said.

Deputy County Executive Mark Soine met with the woman July 9, the day after she wrote the letter, according to documents provided by the county under public disclosure. County officials immediately began an investigation and later hired the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie to help determine what happened.

According to a report from Seattle lawyer Linda Walton, Ladiser was drinking heavily on the day of the golf tournament, before and during the event.

The woman and at least one other person saw Ladiser expose himself, according to the report.

“Mr. Ladiser was very intoxicated,” the report states. “He acted on the spur of the moment out of a drunken impulse.”

Later, according to the report, Ladiser slept in his car at the golf course parking lot, missing a banquet held that evening. Ladiser told investigators that he woke up in his car around 9 p.m. At that point, the last thing he remembered of the day’s event was that he reached for a bottle of tequila that had tipped over on the floor of his golf cart.

County officials received the completed report on Wednesday, Schwarzen said. On Thursday, Soine told Ladiser that he could no longer work for the county.

Ladiser, like other nonunion county employees, worked at the will of the county executive. Reardon has the right to hire and fire those employees as he sees fit, Schwarzen said.

“That’s just not becoming behavior for any county employee,” Schwarzen said of Ladiser’s actions.

The Master Builder’s Association frequently hosts events to which it invites county and city officials from throughout the county, said Sam Anderson, the association’s executive officer.

“We have a great working relationship with the county, and we had a great working relationship with Craig,” Anderson said. “We brought the incident to Aaron (Reardon’s) attention, and he acted promptly and responsibly.”

Ladiser and other county workers are allowed to attend events hosted by the Master Builder’s Association and other organizations, Schwarzen said. In accordance with the county’s policy, Ladiser disclosed to another county official that he planned to attend the Builder’s Cup golf tournament, Schwarzen said.

Ladiser worked for the county between 1986 and 1994. Reardon hired him in 2004 as director of Planning and Development Services.

Ladiser was among the top-paid county workers, making just under $150,000 a year – more than Reardon and other elected officials.

Ladiser’s departure is the latest blow to a department that has been crippled by layoffs. The department, which once employed 240 workers, now employs fewer than 100 people, county Councilman Brian Sullivan said.

“I’m concerned the department could be in disarray without a leader,” Sullivan said.

Planning and Development Services Division Manager Larry Adamson now serves as the department’s acting director. He will continue in that position until a permanent replacement is found, Schwarzen said.

Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422, kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Sequoia High graduates move their tassels from one side to the other at the end of the graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 17, 2021 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Gallery: Sequoia High Graduation

Sequoia High School graduates receive their diplomas

A resident reported finding a dead Asian giant hornet near Marysville on June 4. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dead ‘murder hornet’ found in Marysville, a first for county

It could be from a previous season, scientists say, because males don’t typically emerge this early.

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Staff Sgt. Travis Snyder, left, receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, south of Seattle. Nurse Jose Picart, right, administered the shot. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday, June 17, 2021, announced a new COVID-19 vaccine incentive lottery for the state's military, family members and veterans because the federal government wasn't sharing individual vaccine status of those groups with the state and there were concerns they would be left out of a previously announced lottery. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
New vaccine lottery announced for military in Washington

Gov. Inslee said there were concerns they would be left out of a previously announced lottery.

In Edmonds, ‘small cell’ deployment permit becomes a big deal

The City Council has allowed new cellular equipment under an ordinance that regulates conditions.

Taleah Burr (left right), Laurel Harrison, Caitlin Hitchner and Kelsey Jinneman-Fairbanks are four teachers at Challenger Elementary in Everett got Roman numeral '4' tattoos to represent their "Core 4" solidarity the day after their first year teaching in 2014.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Inked: Third-grade teachers tattoo their solidarity IV-ever

Most of their Challenger Elementary students don’t know about the hidden badge of teacher pride.

Woman killed in hit-and-run south of Everett is identified

Detectives have been searching for the vehicle that struck Katherine Mueller, 31, of Snohomish.

Highway 99 fatal crash victim from Seattle identified

Sarah Cooper was the passenger in the car that reportedly crossed into oncoming traffic in Lynnwood.

A portion of the site of the proposed Lake Stevens Costco at the intersection of Highway 9 (right) and South Lake Stevens Road (below, out of view). (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Shovel alert: Groundbreaking on Lake Stevens Costco is near

A land sale in early June cleared the way. The mayor says dirt could be flying as soon as next week.

Officers surrounded a Motel 6 near Everett Tuesday morning after a reported rape. A man tried to flee but was subdued and arrested. (Ellen Dennis / The Herald) 20210615
Man arrested after standoff at motel over reported rape

Surrounded by a SWAT team near Everett, the man tried to flee but was subdued with pepper balls.

Most Read