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A judge Tuesday refused to decrease the bail for a King County sheriff’s deputy accused of helping his estranged wife work as a prostitute, stealing department ammunition and illegally delivering testosterone.

Claiming that Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell had threatened witnesses, had been violent in the past and owns 69 handguns that have yet to be accounted for, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff urged King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers to maintain bail at $150,000.

Sheriff’s Detective Christina Bartlett testified about Holiwell’s alleged aggression, his emotional instability and an incident where he choked and threatened his estranged wife with a loaded gun.

Holiwell did not address the court during his more than half-hour arraignment, but his attorney Kristine Costello argued that his bail be lowered to $50,000.

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“My client and I both respect the process and are both members of the criminal-justice system,” Costello said in court. “We’re not naive; the allegations are serious. My client is a police officer and is held to a higher standard because of that and that’s why we’re asking for that $50,000 bond.”

Rogers agreed that law-enforcement officers should be held to “a different standard because they’re sworn to uphold the law.” He maintained Holiwell’s bail at $150,000 and scheduled Holiwell’s next court hearing for July 15.

Holiwell, 49, also pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree promoting prostitution, one count of first-degree theft and one count of violating a drug law. He is being held in protective custody at the King County Jail because he is a law-enforcement officer, according to the jail staff.

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 of 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.

Investigators believe Holiwell had been tipped to the investigation, because a search of his Seattle home failed to turn up a single firearm or a single round of ammunition.

Urquhart was among those seated in court Tuesday morning for Holiwell’s arraignment. He said their investigation of Holiwell is continuing.

Urquhart said little after the hearing, but he called Holiwell’s bail “appropriate.”

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. His 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.

Holiwell’s current wife told investigators that he, 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 their two boys who remained with him, she said.

Holiwell is being paid his salary while he is 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.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or On Twitter @SeattleSullivan

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