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June 19, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Sheriff: Prostitution, theft case against deputy is ‘police corruption’

Update at 2:19 p.m.: At this afternoon’s news conference, King County Sheriff John Urquhart laid out the case in detail, saying his office was looking into whether other deputies or commanders were involved or should have known of the illegal or improper activities alleged in the charges against Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell.

“This is a form of police corruption, I believe,” Urquhart said.

In addition to the three charges, Urquhart said, the investigation uncovered that Holiwell, a SWAT officer and chief of the department’s shooting range, sold 19,000 pounds of brass from expended shell casings to three guns shops in exchange for equipment used by the SWAT team, including gun sights and barrels.

Urquhart said the investigation also showed that Holiwell was using steroids and selling them to others in and outside of the Sheriff’s Office.

Two other deputies have been placed on paid leave, Urquhart said. One is believed to have tipped off Holiwell to the investigation, Urquhart said. He declined to elaborate on why the other is on leave.

Update at 12:54 p.m.: King County sheriff’s Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell was charged today with three counts: one count of second-degree promoting prostitution; one count of first-degree theft; and one count of violation of the uniform controlled substances act.

Original post: A King County sheriff’s deputy was arrested this morning for investigation of promoting prostitution, theft and a drug violation, jail records show.

Darrion Keith Holiwell was booked into the King County Jail this morning. He is being held in protective custody.

Holiwell has been the subject an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office for several months. Sheriff’s investigators were looking into an allegation that the 49-year-old deputy, while under financial strain, aided his wife in working as a prostitute, including using the county’s computer system to check the backgrounds of her clients, law enforcement sources have said.

Sheriff John Urquhart emailed members of the department this morning informing them of the arrest, indicating Holiwell had been on administrative leave. In his email, Urquhart said he expected felony charges would be filed against Holiwell today.

A law enforcement source this morning said the promoting prostitution allegation stems from Holiwell collecting money from his estranged wife after she worked as an escort. The drug allegation is related to steroids being found in Holiwell’s house, the source said.

The theft count stems from an allegation that Holiwell stole ammunition from the sheriff’s office and resold it – making close to $15,000. These and other details are expected to be revealed during a news conference at 1 p.m.

The matter publicly surfaced April 16 when Urquhart alerted the department in an email that three deputies had been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. At the time, Urquhart did not reveal the nature of the investigation, nor the names of the deputies.

He said two of the deputies were assigned to the Ravensdale Gun Range, a department shooting facility in Southeast King County, and the third to Major Crimes.

“It is not particularly unusual for an employee to go on paid administrative leave during an investigation,” Urquhart wrote. “It certainly doesn’t happen every day, but neither is it uncommon.

Holiwell, a 19-year department veteran, is currently involved in bitter divorce proceedings with his wife. In court papers, he has accused her of working as a paid sex escort, abandoning their two children and harassing him.

Holiwell did not implicate himself in the escort work, according to court documents reviewed by The Times in April.

The two other deputies placed on leave were under investigation for possibly alerting Holiwell to the criminal inquiry, the sources said.

We’ll update this story as soon as we have additional details.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: King County Jail, King County sheriff's deputy, King County Sheriff's Office

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