Mike Music, a veteran corrections officer, is accused of embezzling $1,300 in guild funds. But that figure is a pittance compared with what was first reported stolen — and the wages paid to Music and four others since they were placed on leave.

Share story

After an 18-month investigation by Tukwila police, prosecutors charged a veteran King County corrections officer last month with second-degree theft for allegedly embezzling just over $1,300 from the King County Corrections Guild.

Charging papers allege the money former guild treasurer Mike Music, 49, is accused of misappropriating is “a fraction of the dubious transactions” he made from late 2014 through September 2015 — and that the embezzlement of guild funds actually began several years earlier.

But the monetary amount included in the charges is a pittance compared with the $150,000 that was originally reported involved when Music and four other former guild board members were first accused in 2016 of using union funds for things like vacations, car repairs and casino visits.

Because the alleged theft was against a private association and not related to the former board members’ duties as public officers, King County prosecutors were bound by the three-year statute of limitations for most crimes involving property, according to spokeswoman Whitney Keyes.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

While prosecutors will seek restitution against Music if he is convicted, “we do not anticipate filing additional charges, though circumstances may change,” Keyes wrote in an email.

The $1,300 Music is accused of embezzling is also chump change compared with what King County has paid in wages while the men were on paid administrative leave during the investigation. Three of the five remain on leave, but the other two — a sergeant and an officer — have returned to work, said William Hayes, director of the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

“It’s a significant chunk of change,” Hayes said.

All five were placed on paid administrative leave in July 2016. One officer returned to work three months later, and the sergeant, who was on leave for nine months, went back to work in April, said Hayes.

The officer received a corrective letter of counseling, and the sergeant is being administratively investigated for complaints made against him, said Hayes, who couldn’t provide additional details due to the ongoing investigation.

But the three others — Music, a captain, and another officer — remain on paid administrative leave. Combined, they’ve been paid more than $500,000 over the past 18 months, an estimate based on salary information included in a Seattle Times database of King County employees that was last updated in 2016.

The captain, whose rank now makes him ineligible for guild membership, is a past union president. The other four served on the guild’s board for a significant amount of time before they were ousted by the membership in spring 2016.

Music, the only former board member to be criminally charged, was the guild’s treasurer. A 21-year veteran of the county’s corrections department, Music, a Tacoma resident, entered a not-guilty plea to the theft charge on Jan. 8, court records show.

A listed phone number for Music has been disconnected, and a message left on his wife’s cellphone on Friday was not returned. Court records do not include the name of a defense attorney, so it is unknown whether Music has retained counsel.

The guild’s offices are located in Tukwila, which is why the theft allegations were investigated by Tukwila police. The guild represents roughly 540 sergeants and corrections officers who work at the King County Jail and Youth Services Center in Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

The guild’s website does not include a phone number, and there was no response to email messages seeking comment from the union’s current leadership.

Now that the criminal investigation has been completed, Music, the captain and the other officer will be subject to an internal investigation, which was put on hold while Tukwila police investigated, Hayes said.

Depending on the outcome of those investigations, Music and the two others could face discipline, including termination, if they are found to have violated the department’s code of conduct, Hayes said.

According to the charges filed against Music:

The guild pulls in more than $500,000 a year through membership dues.

In late 2015, the then-president was alarmed by lower-than-expected balances in the guild’s bank account, and discovered Music had kept nearly nonexistent records, the charges say. The guild then hired a fraud examiner, the charges say.

Sometime earlier, Music had obtained credit cards for union leaders for “the purchase of guild-related items and conducting guild-related business,” charging papers say.

A review of bank records revealed that Music use his credit card to embezzle guild funds over the course of several years, the charges say.

“He did so in a regular and routine manner, consciously intertwining his misappropriation of guild funds with the appropriate use of the guild’s bank and credit card accounts … thereby minimizing the chance of discovery,” charging papers say. “Music’s repeated acts of embezzlement were never especially grandiose, but more in the nature of day-to-day expenses along with travel and entertainment.”

Purchases made at Fred Meyer, McDonald’s and Ticketmaster are among the list of Music’s fraudulent expenditures, as well as payments to a couple of hotels and some sports-related businesses, according to the charges.

“After being confronted by guild leadership, Music admitted his misconduct and betrayal of the trust placed in him by the membership of his union,” the charges say.