A former King County sheriff’s detective is appealing her firing after an internal investigation determined that she had tipped off a former colleague that he was the target of a criminal investigation.
Robin Cleary, a former major-crimes detective who was fired in October, is working with the sheriff’s guild to get her job back, her attorney, Robert Christie, said last week.
Cleary is one of two former deputies who were caught up in the investigation that led to the conviction of former Deputy Darrion Keith Holiwell, who is serving 17 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution, first-degree theft and violating a drug law.
An investigation determined that Cleary “shared information with Darrion Holiwell concerning an allegation of domestic violence by his estranged wife,” the King County Prosecutor’s Office said in August. However, while sharing the information did violate her responsibilities within the Sheriff’s Office, there was insufficient evidence to prove what she did was criminal, according to the prosecutor.
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According to a memo obtained by The Seattle Times through a state public-records request, Cleary met with Holiwell and talked to him about the case “during the early stages of the investigation.” She also provided him with the names of people involved in the investigation, according to Ted Stensland, chief of the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division.
According to the memo obtained by The Times, Cleary talked to two colleagues in the Criminal Investigations Division about whether she should contact Holiwell and both advised her against it.
“Cleary knew or should have known that a criminal and administrative investigation would ensue,” the memo said.
Cleary was found to have committed conduct unbecoming after tipping Holiwell. “She admitted she chose a friendship over her duties as a detective,” the memo said.
Cleary was found to have made false reports or statements by claiming that the colleagues she spoke to encouraged her to talk to Holiwell, “which they all deny,” the memo said.
Cleary, in the memo, was recommended for termination.
In addition to Cleary, another deputy with ties to Holiwell was also recommended for termination after he, too, allegedly tipped Holiwell.
In a Sept. 5 memo also from Stensland, Deputy Chris Kahrs was found to have participated in conduct criminal in nature by “obtaining steroids, testosterone, HGH and prescription Viagra illegally and to use illegally.” Kahrs told investigators he purchased drugs from Holiwell and a friend Holiwell introduced him to, the memo said.
Kahrs, a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, worked at the sheriff’s firearms range with Holiwell.
Kahrs was found to have engaged in: conduct criminal in nature; willful violation of either civil career-service rules, code of ethics, Sheriff’s Office rules, policies and procedures involving confidentiality and gratuity; conduct unbecoming and making false or fraudulent reports of statements, committing acts of dishonesty.
On Oct. 13, one day before a so-called Loudermill hearing to allow him to plead his case before final punishment was made, Kahrs resigned from the Sheriff’s Office.
Christie, who also represented Kahrs, said Kahrs “made his own decision to resign and that’s what he did.”
Holiwell was charged after it was learned he helped his estranged wife work as an escort by providing advice and assisting with security measures. Holiwell would collect about 80 percent of her earnings. He was also found to have stolen from the department and delivered drugs.
He was fired by King County Sheriff John Urquhart in July.