Thursday, April 13, 2006

Donations for Lighter Charges Under Scrutiny in Kennewick

The FBI is investigating a practice in Benton County District Court where the prosecutor would reduce charges if the defendant made a donation to a charity the prosecutors named (an after-school program for at-risk teens). Meanwhile, WSBA is investigating potential ethical violations by two key attorneys (a prosecutor and a defense attorney). Defendants got off the hook if they donated to charity, Seattle Times, April 13, 2006. About $18,000 in donations is unaccounted for, including one $5,000 donation from a DUI dismissal.

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr says that his office does not have a similar practice. Russ Hauge, the Kitsap County Prosecutor, says that he sometimes has a DUI defendant make a donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- but only as part of a package that includes alcohol treatment and other penalties.

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