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Originally published January 24, 2014 at 5:34 PM | Page modified January 24, 2014 at 9:15 PM

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Plea by ‘pirate’ for lesser sentence fails to sway judge

The self-proclaimed pirate, a convicted sex offender who stole a Victoria Clipper ferry last month, was sentenced Friday to two years and five months in prison.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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A self-proclaimed “pirate” who pleaded guilty to stealing a Victoria Clipper ferry last month was sentenced to two years and five months in prison by a King County Superior Court judge.

Samuel Kenneth McDonough, a convicted sex offender from Preston who represented himself in court, asked the judge to give him less than two years. He said he’d taken responsibility for his actions by telling police what he’d done and by pleading guilty.

In addition, he said, he didn’t think it was fair that he had to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet or register as a Level III sex offender because he didn’t think his previous sex offenses were “all that bad.”

Prosecutors say it was McDonough’s 33rd birthday Dec. 1 when he climbed through a hole in a security fence at Seattle’s Pier 69, where Victoria Clipper docks its vessels. He partially untied the 132-foot Clipper IV and started the vessel with keys from the unlocked wheelhouse, according to Darrell Bryan, the CEO of Victoria Clipper.

Authorities were alerted when Bryan arrived in the morning, saw the empty slot and spied the vessel, which appeared to be headed toward Harbor Island, police and prosecutors said.

McDonough was arrested by a police SWAT team after talks with a hostage negotiator failed, according to police.

In court documents, prosecutors said McDonough took the $8 million, 480-ton vessel “on a whim as a birthday present to himself” that day because he wanted to go to Victoria, B.C. He also claimed to be seeking safe passage to West Seattle, police said.

While adrift in Elliott Bay, McDonough “proclaimed himself a pirate, and said he had intended to flee the country ...,” Deputy Prosecutor Ian Ith wrote.

Court documents also allege McDonough told authorities his name was “Zero” and asked officers to bring him a woman “because he was lonely.”

McDonough was under supervision by the state Department of Corrections and was supposed to be wearing a GPS anklet. McDonough has convictions for indecent exposure in King County in 2005, 2008 and 2012. The most recent conviction, a felony, came after he allegedly masturbated in front of two Issaquah coffee-stand baristas, according to court documents. He said he was high on meth at the time.

At Friday’s hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Ken Schubert said McDonough’s statement about why he shouldn’t have to register as a sex offender, and his vow that he’d cut off any GPS bracelet, convinced the judge that McDonough did not respect the law or intend to follow court orders. He said McDonough, therefore, deserved a sentence at the high end of the standard sentencing range.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report. Christine Clarridge: cclarridge@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8983.



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