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June 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

King County deputy pleads not guilty in prostitution, theft case

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King County sheriff’s Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell during his arraignment this morning. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

A King County sheriff’s deputy accused of helping his estranged wife work as a prostitute, stealing department ammunition and illegally delivering testosterone pleaded not guilty this morning in King County Superior Court.

During the arraignment for Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell, defense attorney Kristine Costello argued that his bail be lowered to $50,000. But King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff, in seeking the bail to remain at $150,000, said Holiwell has 69 firearms registered in his name and has threatened the sheriff’s office.

Judge Jim Rogers, saying law enforcement officers should be held to “a higher standard,” maintained Holiwell’s bail at $150,000.

Holiwell, 49, was charged Thursday with one count of second-degree promoting prostitution, one count of first-degree theft and one count of violating a drug law. He was being held in protective custody.

The theft charge stems from Holiwell’s alleged trading of 67 cases of ammunition worth more than $15,000 to two gun shops since 2007 in exchange for credit to obtain tactical gear and firearms parts.

Holiwell, a 19-year-veteran, faces 12 to 20 months in prison if convicted of the felony charges.

Two other deputies have been placed on paid leave as the investigation into Holiwell continues, Sheriff John Urquhart said last week. One, a woman who worked in the major-crimes unit, is suspected of tipping Holiwell to the investigation. No details were provided on why the other deputy, who works at the range, is on leave.

Urquhart was among those seated in court this morning for Holiwell’s arraignment.

Holiwell has been the subject of an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office since April, when his estranged wife, who is involved in a bitter divorce case with Holiwell, went to his previous wife, according to charging documents. The current wife wanted to find if there had been a pattern of domestic violence in the previous relationship like that allegedly occurring in her marriage, the documents say.

The former wife mentioned the conversation to a friend who is a King County sheriff’s employee and is required to report domestic violence. The employee notified supervisors.

Although the current wife and former wife didn’t intend for an investigation, both later provided statements concerning assaults and violent behavior by Holiwell, according to the charging documents.

His current wife told investigators that Holiwell, knowing her background as an exotic dancer, suggested she work a second job as an escort to help with the family’s financial burdens, which worsened when he needed surgery and couldn’t earn overtime related to his SWAT duties and a side business in firearms training, the charges allege.

Even though she moved to her own condominium when their 14-year marriage faltered last year, he helped her work as an escort at that point by providing advice and assisting with security measures, she told investigators. Holiwell would collect about 80 percent of her earnings — including some of the nearly $2,000 she made on weekends — to help him pay household expenses and for the two boys who remained with him, she said.

Holiwell, who lives in Seattle, is being paid his salary while in jail and the case is under investigation. He will remain on paid leave until the case is resolved and the Sheriff’s Office investigation concludes.

 

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: King County Sheriff's Office, prostitution, theft

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