Prosecutors to review former Sultan police chief’s case

SULTAN – Everett police have finished an investigation focusing on former Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser. Prosecutors outside Snohomish County have been asked to determine if the discoveries warrant criminal charges.

The investigation focused on Walser’s handling of public records, employee access to police computers and other management issues.

Everett detectives investigated allegations of possible evidence tampering, obstruction, official misconduct and making false statements to a public servant, documents obtained Tuesday show.

“Mr. Walser maintains his complete innocence,” said John Hicks, Walser’s attorney.

The 800-page report was delivered to the city on Thursday, Mayor Ben Tolson said.

He would not comment on the report’s findings.

Much of the investigation documented how a dispute between two Sultan-area neighbors expanded to involve the Sultan Police Department. One of the neighbors had worked for the police department and was fired in September for alleged misuse of police computers.

The police employee allegedly used the state’s criminal records database to check on her neighbor. The neighbor filed a public records request, seeking proof. Walser was accused of deliberately mishandling the records request and misleading state and local investigators, documents show.

In May, Walser announced plans to retire. A few weeks later he was placed on administrative leave. City officials have said Walser is being investigated as part of two probes into allegations of wrongdoing at the police department.

Walser tried to rescind his resignation until after the investigations were complete. City officials refused to reconsider.

Walser is suing the city for $10 million.

The case was referred to Whatcom County prosecutors to avoid a potential conflict of interest, said Joan Cavagnaro, Snohomish County’s chief deputy prosecutor.

“My boss and (former) chief Walser have had a close working relationship for the years he was Sultan police chief,” Cavagnaro said of Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis.

Cavagnaro said she has no idea when the Whatcom County prosecutor will decide whether criminal charges are warranted.

Whatcom county officials did not immediately return phone calls.

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