June 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Police: Snohomish County sergeant allegedly tipped off bikini baristas to investigation
Police have arrested a Snohomish County Sheriff’s sergeant for allegedly helping bikini baristas elude an investigation into whether they were peddling sexual acts in addition to coffee.
Sgt. Darrell O’Neill, a 30-year sheriff’s office veteran, was taken into custody Tuesday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to promote prostitution and official misconduct, officials said.
Everett police made the arrest after a three-month investigation revealed evidence the sergeant was “providing sensitive information” to the owner of more than a half dozen coffee stands in the Puget Sound area, including a description of an undercover patrol vehicle and advice on how not to get caught, said deputy chief Dan Templeman.
It is unclear what, if anything, O’Neill was allegedly getting in return, Templeman said.
Police also arrested the owner of the coffee stands, a 51-year-old woman; her manager, a 22-year-old woman; and at least two female baristas in their early 20s, Templeman said.
“We have detained at least five individuals, and we are attempting to interview them about these allegations,” he said.
The investigation began in March when the Kent Police Department obtained information about the potential criminal activities and notified the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which turned the investigation over to Everett police.
As part of Everett’s investigation, detectives “observed both in-person and through on-camera surveillance not only lewd conduct but sexual activity at these stands,” Templeman said.
The FBI also assisted with the investigation, he said.
On Tuesday, officers from the Everett, Edmonds and Lynnwood police departments conducted coordinated raids on seven barista stands in Everett, Edmonds, Snohomish and Kent, all belonging to the same owner, Templeman said.
After the arrest, O’Neill was placed on paid administrative leave pending criminal and internal investigations, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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