Yakima panhandler found dead with heroin, police say

YAKIMA — A panhandler who routinely worked a busy Yakima intersection was found dead in his car with $1,700 in cash and a half-pound of heroin, police said.

Douglas D. Budd, 56, had a hypodermic needle in his arm and apparently died of a drug overdose on Tuesday night in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Thursday.

However, the official cause of death was pending the results of toxicology tests, which take four to six weeks.

It appeared Budd spilled his strawberry shake on himself because the death was so sudden, police said.

Budd had been under investigation for drug dealing and split his time between dealing and panhandling, police Capt. Rod Light said.

“He used to work the southwest corner of First and Nob Hill Boulevard,” Light said. “He was one of our regulars.”

While some panhandlers may be genuinely down on their luck or homeless, the ones who hold signs all day at busy intersections are usually not, Light said.

“Some of these guys are violent offenders and have long criminal records. I think there’s this feeling or belief that these people trudge down to the bridge at night and sleep in the dirt,” he said. “That’s not the case.”

Budd had a criminal history that included 16 misdemeanor convictions for shoplifting as well as felony convictions for burglary, drug possession and theft of a firearm, according to court records.

Acting on complaints of aggressive panhandling by some people who were only pretending to be homeless, the City Council in 2010 added parking lots to places where the practice is prohibited.

However, the council sidestepped calls for prohibitions against panhandling close to ATMs or street corners, saying the city had more important problems to handle.

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