Ex-sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to prostitution, theft, drug charges
A former King County sheriff’s deputy accused of helping his estranged wife work as a prostitute, stealing department ammunition and illegally delivering drugs pleaded guilty Monday in King County Superior Court.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A King County judge didn’t mince words after former King County sheriff’s deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell admitted in court Monday that he helped his wife work as a prostitute, stole from the department and delivered drugs.
“It is difficult for the court to comprehend how somebody who swore to protect the public and to uphold the law could engage in these serious crimes,” Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller said. “You are a disgrace to your profession by engaging in these actions.”
Heller sentenced Holiwell to 366 days in prison after the longtime deputy pleaded guilty to single counts of second-degree promoting prostitution, domestic-violence; first-degree theft; and violating a drug law. In addition, the former SWAT member who ran a private firearms-training school and participated in shooting competitions cannot own or possess firearms once he’s released from prison, Heller said.
“I have embarrassed myself, my family and this department,” Holiwell, 49, said in court. “Upon completion of my sentence I intend to rejoin the community as a law-abiding citizen. I hope to repair and rebuild the relationships with my family, friends and community that I damaged by my actions.”
“He’s at Ground Zero,” Holiwell’s attorney, Kristine Costello, said during the sentencing hearing. She said he took full responsibility for his crimes because he wanted to “man up.”
Costello and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff agreed on the one-year and one-day sentence. Because it is a day longer than a year, it means he will serve his sentence in prison rather than jail.
The Sheriff’s Office began investigating Holiwell in April, after his estranged wife went to his previous wife to find out if the other woman had endured domestic violence while with Holiwell, authorities said. The former wife mentioned the conversation to a friend who is a sheriff’s employee and the employee notified supervisors.
Although the current wife and the former wife didn’t intend for an investigation, both later provided statements concerning assaults and violent behavior by Holiwell, according to the court charging documents.
Holiwell’s 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 problems, which worsened when he needed surgery and couldn’t earn overtime related to his SWAT duties or through Praetor Defense, his firearms-training business, authorities said.
Even though Holiwell’s estranged wife moved to her own condominium when their 14-year marriage faltered last year, he helped her work as an escort 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 expenses related to their two young sons, she said.
The former couple are involved in a bitter divorce. The couple’s two sons are living with Holiwell’s former mother-in-law.
Holiwell’s theft conviction stems from his trading of 67 cases of ammunition worth more than $15,000 to two gun shops in exchange for credit to obtain tactical gear and firearms parts.
Sheriff John Urquhart, in announcing Holiwell’s arrest in June, said the probe also uncovered evidence that Holiwell, chief of the department’s Ravensdale shooting range, sold about 19,000 pounds of brass from expended shell casings to three gun shops in exchange for some cash, but mostly for merchandise used by the SWAT team, including gun sights and barrels.
“Basically, tricking out their weapons,” Urquhart said in June. “Lots of stuff, to the tune of about between $45,000 and $50,000 between 2007 and currently. Essentially what it was was a slush fund for the SWAT team off the books, at least off our books.”
Holiwell’s drug conviction stems from his possession and sales of drugs, including steroids.
In April, detectives contacted a man described as providing Holiwell with drugs who was living in a condo owned by Holiwell.
Investigators seized nearly 100 bottles of illegal steroids in his home. The man told investigators that he had sold Holiwell steroids since soon after meeting him in 2012, and also sold him cocaine, Cialis and the club drug Molly, charging papers said. The man said he lived rent-free in exchange for drugs.
Kevin McDaniel, a Seattle police officer, is also named in charging documents as purchasing testosterone from Holiwell several times, most recently in early April 2014. McDaniel is under investigation by the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability.
Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Ron Smith said McDaniel had been on administrative leave, but has since returned to work.
Urquhart fired Holiwell on July 15.
“Darrion Holiwell violated his oath, the trust of his fellow deputies, and the trust of the citizens of King County,” Urquhart said at the time. “He does not deserve to be a police officer.”
After Holiwell’s sentencing, sheriff’s Detective Christina Bartlett, who headed the investigation, said what he did is “not reflective of the majority of our deputies.”
“As an officer I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in his actions,” she said. “It’s disgraceful.”
Two other deputies have been placed on paid leave as the investigation into Holiwell’s actions continues. 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 shooting range, is on leave.
Bartlett said that the investigations are ongoing.