Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Contact:
Email

Spokane
Spokane, WA 99201
Seattle
Seattle, WA 98164-1012

 


Overview

The mission of the Criminal Justice Division (CRJ) is to work with and support its partners in the criminal justice community and to work towards creating safe communities. Under state law and the Washington State Constitution, the Attorney General’s office cannot investigate or prosecute crimes without a request from a county prosecutor or the Governor. Upon request from the Governor, local law enforcement and local prosecutors, the division investigates and prosecutes criminal cases throughout the state and provides investigative and prosecutorial support to local law enforcement and prosecutors in several areas, including homicide cases, sexual assaults and white-collar crime.  The CRJ civilly prosecutes previously convicted sexually violent predators who have served their criminal sentence and who still pose a serious threat to re-offend. The CRJ provides state- and nationwide investigative expertise and assistance through the office’s Homicide Investigation and Tracking System (HITS) Unit and through the investigators and crime analysts who are part of HITS.  The CRJ also represents and advises the Washington State Patrol (WSP),  the Criminal Justice Training Commission and other criminal justice agencies.

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Services Provided

Sexually Violent Predator Unit (SVP):  The SVP Unit was established in 1990 following enactment of RCW 71.09, which permits the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are likely to commit predatory acts of sexual violence if released to the community.  The cases are largely based on expert psychological testimony that details the offender’s typically lengthy criminal sexual history and gives a complex statistical analysis of sex offender recidivism data.  Additionally, victims and witnesses involved in the offender’s crimes frequently testify about their contact with the offender.

The unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). The expertise of the unit permits it to handle all aspects of sex predator cases, including pre-filing investigations, pre-trial motion practice, trial, post-commitment proceedings and appeals.  Because of the liberty interest at stake, offenders subject to civil commitment as SVPs are granted many of the rights of criminal defendants, such as the right to counsel, the right to a unanimous jury and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Once committed, the SVPs are entitled to annual reviews of their condition, and the unit attorneys must produce evidence that the offenders continue to meet SVP criteria at a yearly hearing.

Homicide Investigation and Tracking System Unit (HITS):  HITS is a program within the Attorney General’s Office that tracks and investigates homicides and rapes. The HITS Unit also offers investigative consultation to agencies around the state for cold case homicide and equivocal death investigations. It is the only statewide central repository for information relating to violent crimes against persons. Data from more than 14,300 murder investigations and more than 9,400 sexual assaults have been collected by HITS and used to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of these crimes. Typically, the HITS Unit will respond to over 1,000 requests for assistance or information each year. The investigators who work in the unit also provide expertise to the local and national jurisdictions on homicide and rape investigations. The HITS Unit is a national leader in developing and using computers in innovative ways to prevent and increase the solvability of crimes. The unit has been the recipient of several grants to study trends or common characteristics in violent crimes and provides training to local law enforcement. 

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI): The CRJ provides resources to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) federal grant. Washington’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is a statewide effort to address the accumulation of unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAK) in the possession of local law enforcement agencies and hospitals. In October 2017, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office was awarded a $3 million grant to implement this effort.

Criminal Litigation Unit (CLU):  When requested by the Governor or any of the 39 county prosecuting attorneys, the CLU investigates, assists with and prosecutes complex criminal cases.  The members of the CLU render assistance ranging from review of charging decisions to assuming full prosecutorial authority in cases that present a potential conflict for the local prosecutor.  The attorneys of the CLU also provide specialized expertise in homicide prosecution, complex litigation, public corruption, white collar crime, corporate fraud and insurance fraud, as well as serving as a liaison with various federal investigative and prosecution resources.  Members of the CLU are often called upon by various state agencies to provide training on case development and risk assessment/management to the internal state investigators.

The CLU has partnered with the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor and Industries to assist the agencies in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against the state of Washington and its citizens. These cooperative efforts have been highly successful and have resulted in recovery awards in excess of $10 million to the state.

Client Advice Provided: The CRJ represents and advises the Washington State Patrol, the Criminal Justice Training Commission and the Forensic Investigation Council. The division also provides prosecutors to provide instruction at the Washington State Patrol trooper academies several times per year.

Advisory Groups & Task Forces: The CRJ participates in many groups and task forces, including Missing & Murdered Indigenous Persons Working Group, Seattle University Criminal Justice Advisory Board, Commercial Sexually Exploited Children Task Force, Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations (SAFE) Advisory Group, Hate Crimes Working Group, Worker Protection Working Group, Statewide Coordinated Enforcement Against LNI Fraud Working Group, and others.

Law Enforcement Medal of Honor: Each year our office helps organize the  Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Ceremony .
 

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Significant Criminal Cases, 2012-2020

GENERAL CASES:

State v. Argomaniz-Camargo (Adams County)– In 2017, Defendant was sentenced to serve 357 months (30 years) in prison after being convicted of Murder in the First Degree for bludgeoning and stabbing his girlfriend to death.

State v. Carlos Avalos (Clallam County)- In 2015, this prison inmate was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree and sentenced to 70 months for attacking a correctional officer with a shank. 

State v. Laughn Doescher (King County) – In 2016, the defendant was convicted of four counts of Indecent Liberties and was sentenced to serve 116 months (about 10 years) for drugging and sexually assaulting multiple impaired or unconscious homeless women. 

State v. Richard Garcia (King County) –In 2017, Defendant was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Tampering With a Witness and two counts of Violating a Protection Order for stabbing his girlfriend in a motel room. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

State v. Eric Truitt (Stevens County) – In 2014, Defendant was convicted of Felony Harassment of a Criminal Justice Participant and Cyberstalking for sending threatening emails to the WSBA and the Stevens County Prosecutor's Office concerning a Stevens County Deputy Prosecutor who had prosecuted him for a domestic violence assault.  He was sentenced to serve three months in jail and ordered to have no contact with the victim.  

 

PUBLIC CORRUPTION/ STATE ACTOR CASES

State v. Dennis Huston (Franklin County) – Huston was the Account Manager of the Franklin County Public Works Office. He set up fake companies and invoiced the county for goods and services, and then utilized his position to channel the payments to himself.  In 2013, he was convicted of Theft in the First Degree, Money Laundering and Possession of Cocaine. He was sentenced to serve 16 months in prison, and ordered to pay $2,815,499 in restitution.

State v. Dennis McCarthy (Kitsap County) - In 2011, a jury convicted this former Port Orchard police sergeant of First and Second Degree Assault for pointing a gun at his girlfriend and then seriously injuring her by pushing her out of a second-story window.  The court sentenced him to 23 years in prison.

State v. Rex Newport (Stevens County) – In 2014, this Colville police officer was convicted of Residential Burglary, Unlawful Imprisonment With Sexual Motivation, Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree, Making a False or Misleading Statement to a Public Servant, and Official Misconduct for using his position as a police officer to intimidate or induce women into having sex with him while on duty. The court sentenced him to serve 29 months in prison, register as a sex offender, and the State later revoked his certification to work as a peace officer based upon this conduct.

State v. Justin Husom (Franklin County) – In 2014, this Franklin County Correctional Officer was convicted of two counts of Custodial Sexual Misconduct and one count of Official Misconduct for having sexual relations with two inmates in exchange for razors and candy. He was sentenced to serve 10 months in jail and required to register as a sex offender.

State v. Rex McNicol and Jeffery Montgomery (Pierce County) – In 2011, these two Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies were convicted of perjury for lying under oath during a criminal suppression hearing. The court sentenced them to serve 90 days in jail and the State later revoked their certifications to work as peace officers based upon this conduct.

State v. Vance Johnson (Pacific County) – In 2015, this former Pacific County Sheriff’s Deputy was convicted of Official Misconduct and five counts of Reckless Endangerment and sentenced to serve 14 days for using his position as a law enforcement officer to intimidate several people in order to resolve a personal dispute. The State later revoked his certification to work as a peace officer based upon this conduct.

Timothy Fultz (King County) – In 2016, this DSHS employee was convicted of Theft in the First Degree, Computer Trespass in the First Degree, Money Laundering, and 4 counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree and sentenced to 48 months for using his governmental access to gather identifying information on people and then using that information to make claims on property that he was not entitled to.

Marriya Wright (Spokane County) – In 2014, this Deputy Prosecutor resigned her position and pled guilty to Rendering Criminal Assistance for assisting a felon in eluding the police.  She was sentenced to complete 60 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $1500 fine.

State v. John Gruden (Snohomish County) – This former state correctional officer filed a worker's compensation claim and moved out of state where he continued to receive benefits from the state of Washington. The Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) worked with an out-of-state investigation firm to obtain surveillance video showing Gruden jogging on a treadmill despite his claimed injury and working three security jobs. After facilitating Defendant’s return to Washington, the AGO convicted Defendant of Theft in the First Degree. He was sentenced to serve 45 days and pay $100,544 in restitution to the Department of Labor and Industries.

 

WAGE THEFT AND EXPLOITATION CASES

State v. Edwin Cruz and Maurice Terry (Pierce County) –The AGO Consumer Protection Division reached a consent decree with these non-attorney defendants prohibiting them from providing often flawed immigration legal services. When the men continued to violate the consent decree, the criminal justice division charged them with Contempt of Court and the Unlawful Practice of Immigration Law. Both men were convicted in 2019, and were sentenced to serve 10 days and ordered to cease their illegal activities or face incarceration.

State v. Sandoval Construction (King County) – In 2018, Sandoval Construction was convicted of Theft in the First Degree, and was ordered to pay $25,260 in restitution to 12 employees who had been deprived of their wages.

 

FINANCIAL CRIMES CASES:

State v. Quality Auto (Snohomish County) – In 2020, this corporation plead guilty to Theft in the First Degree and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution to the Department of Revenue.

State v. JHC International Incorporated (King County) – In 2019, this corporation was convicted of Theft in the First Degree and paid over half a million dollars in restitution to the state for owed sales tax.

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